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Houthi militants patrol a street in Hodeidah, Yemen
Image: Reuters/A. Zeyad

UN ceasefire monitors arrive in Yemen

December 22, 2018

Hours after a Security Council vote, a UN team has landed in Yemen to observe the departure of fighters from Hodeida. The port city serves as the entry point for the majority of imports to the war-ravaged country.


A United Nations monitoring team posted to Yemen's port city of Hodeida has arrived in the country, a UN source said on Saturday.

Led by retired Dutch Major General Patrick Cammaert, the team landed for talks with the officially recognized government in Aden, before heading to the rebel-held capital Sanaa, and then to Hodeida, where a ceasefire took effect on Tuesday.

The team is set to oversee a two-stage withdrawal of all troops from the Red Sea city within three weeks and to secure the functioning of the port, which is a crucial entry point for food and medical aid into Yemen.

The UN envoy for Yemen had urged the rapid deployment of monitors as "an essential part of the confidence" needed for the implementation of the ceasefire agreement signed by Yemen's government and Houthi rebels in Stockholm earlier in the month.

Unanimous decision

The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Friday to "establish and deploy, for an initial period of 30 days from the adoption of this resolution, an advance team to begin monitoring and to support and facilitate the immediate implementation of the Stockholm agreement." 

The resolution was the first on Yemen in more than three years, and was immediately hailed as the first sign of a breakthrough in the four-year conflict. 

Saudi Arabia's deputy permanent representative to the UN, Khalid Manzlawi, said in a statement the resolution would mean the Houthi rebels "will lose their margin of maneuver." 

Since 2015, Riyadh has led a military coalition in support of the government of exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi against the Houthis.

Yemeni rebel negotiator Mohammed Abdelsalam, meanwhile, described the deployment as "an important step towards stopping the aggression and lifting the blockade."

A man walks across the deserted Yemeni port of Hodeida
The Yemeni port of Hodeida is the main entry point for food and aidImage: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Mohammed

US threatened veto

However, the resolution took substantial editing before it was passed. The initial text, drafted by the UK mission, was rewritten by the US on Thursday.

On US insistence, guarantees for humanitarian deliveries and accountability for war crimes were removed.

A clause expressing grave concern about the "growing threat of conflict-induced famine and the devastating impact of the conflict on civilians" was dropped from the text. Similarly, a call for "transparent, credible and timely investigations" into war crimes and for those responsible to be held to account was removed from the UN resolution.

Instead, the text "calls on the Government of Yemen and the Houthis to remove bureaucratic impediments to flows of commercial and humanitarian supplies, including fuel, and on the parties to ensure effective and sustained functioning of all of Yemen's ports."

The US focus has remained on an insistence of Iran's role in arming the Houthi fighters. 

UN envoy Martin Griffiths on a visit to Sanaa
UN envoy Martin Griffiths on a visit to SanaaImage: Getty Images/AFP/M. Huwais

Read more: US Senate votes to end US support for Saudi-led Yemen war

Joint monitoring committee

The UN resolution calls for the ceasefire to be respected and for warring parties not to bring reinforcements into Hodeida. UN special envoy Martin Griffiths is to work with the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels to stabilize the economy and keep Sanaa airport open.

Yemen's government had warned that if the UN mandate for monitors was not approved, the ceasefire could collapse. 

mm,jm/tj (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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