Yemen clashes threaten ceasefire in Hodeida | News | DW | 14.12.2018
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Yemen clashes threaten ceasefire in Hodeida

Only a day after warring parties agreed to a ceasefire, fighting has broken out near the port city. UN officials have urged the Security Council to act swiftly and send monitors before the situation deteriorates.

Clashes broke out Friday evening between pro-government fighters and Houthi rebels near the strategic port city of Hodeida, marking the first of their kind since warring parties agreed to a ceasefire a day before.

Residents said they could hear automatic gunfire on the eastern outskirts of Hodeida, while Houthi-run al-Masirah TV reported coalition warplanes had launched strikes north of the city.

On Thursday, Yemeni government representatives and Houthi negotiators backed a ceasefire in and around Hodeida, which is the main gateway for humanitarian aid and food supplies for the impoverished country.

Monitors 'urgently needed'

But the UN envoy for Yemen on Friday warned that without monitors on the ground, the ceasefire could unravel quickly.

"A robust and competent monitoring regime is not just essential; it is also urgently needed," UN envoy Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council.

Under the ceasefire agreement, warring parties said they would withdraw forces to "locations outside the city and the ports." For the UN, the urgency can't be understated.

"The process outlined on Hodeida is one that's wracked with potential pitfalls – the key will be ensuring an orderly withdrawal process in preventing spoilers from derailing the process," Adam Baron, visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told Reuters news agency.

Read more: In Yemen, 'nearly all children' at risk from war

Disaster

While Yemen struggled with civil unrest during the Arab Spring of 2011, it wasn't until three years later that the situation took a turn for the worse. In 2014, Houthi rebels launched a campaign to capture the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and oust President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia launched a brutal military campaign with the aid of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to push out the Shiite fighters and restore the internationally-recognized government.

The conflict has killed more than 10,000 people and left millions more on the brink of death from starvation and easily treatable diseases, such as cholera.

Yemen has been dubbed the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with 8 million people requiring food assistance monthly. Without a political solution, that figure is likely to reach 12 million by next year, the UN said earlier this month.

Read more: Germany and Saudi Arabia: Weapons for a 'strategic' partner

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Watch video 03:09

UNICEF: 'Close to 2 million Yemeni children are acutely malnourished'

ls/bw (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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