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UN Announces Yemen Ceasefire and Troop Pullout Deal Reached

Hodaidah Sunset, Yemen
Hodaidah Sunset, Yemen. February, 2015. (Photo: Rod Waddington)

The United Nations hopes that a de-escalation meeting in Hodeidah will ease the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

Representatives of the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels met on Monday on-board a vessel in the Red Sea, some 30 km off Hodeidah on Yemen’s western coast. The meeting comes under the auspices of a United Nations’ committee.

The U.N. announced that the two sides had agreed on a “mechanism and new measures to reinforce the ceasefire and de-escalation” around the port of Hodeidah, as well as the technical aspects of a troop pullback,

The meeting is the second in the last 24 hours after the U.N. brought the two sides together over the withdrawal of Houthis from the Hodeidah port city. Negotiations between the warring factions were first kicked off last February.

The Redeployment Coordination Committee of the United Nations, chaired by former Danish Lieutenant General,  helped hold the meetings on board a U.N. ship, which the committee describes as a neutral location.

Both parties were scheduled to discuss withdrawing their forces from Hodeidah, within a ceasefire deal that was reached last December in Stockholm.

Lollesgaard was quoted on Sunday as saying that the meetings constitute a step toward implementing the Hodeidah withdrawal plan. Such a withdrawal was supposed to have been completed two weeks after the December ceasefire went into effect. Yet, the parties failed to observe it.

Two months ago, the U.N. committee declared that the Houthi rebels had pulled back from Hodeidah and two other nearby ports. The announcement represented the first practical step that reflected the ceasefire deal.

However, sources within the Yemeni government considered the pullback as non-compliant, accusing the Houthi militias of handing over control to their allies.

The United Nations hopes that de-escalation in Hodeidah will help deliver badly needed food and other medical aid to millions of Yemenis. The Red Sea port area of Hodeidah is an entry point for shipments of imported goods and relief aid to Yemen.

U.N. records suggest that the current humanitarian crisis across Yemen is the worst around the world.

The Houthi militant group overthrew the Yemen government in late 2014 and wrested control over parts of the country, including the capital Sana’a.

After the Houthi group advanced to the southern city of Aden in early 2015, an Arab military coalition involving Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates responded to a request for intervention by the overthrown Yemeni government.

Fighting in Yemen began five years ago when Houthi rebels took control of large parts of the country, including the capital Sana’a, in late 2014. Mass protests and the Houthi rebel group forced the internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi from power in 2015. Hadi is now reportedly residing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The civil war has its roots in the 2011 Arab Spring, which led to a 2011 Yemen uprising that eventually forced the end of the 32-year-long regime of Yemen’s late president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. The uprising grew into a military conflict in 2014 and has since caused the death of thousands of people and the displacement of hundreds of thousands more.

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Rami Almeghari

Rami Almeghari is a freelance independent writer, journalist and lecturer, based in the Gaza Strip. Rami has contributed in English to several media outlets worldwide, including print, radio and TV. He can be reached on facebook as Rami Munir Almeghari and on email as [email protected]

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