UN ceasefire monitors set to leave for Yemen
Former Dutch general Patrick Cammaert will head up the team reporting on the ceasefire on the ground in Hodeidah
A team of UN monitors led by retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert will leave for Yemen on Thursday, first stopping in Jordan before heading on to Sanaa and then finally the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, where a ceasefire is in place between government forces and Houthi rebels.
The monitors’ job is to report if the ceasefire is working, after reports of numerous breaches, and after calls from the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres and his Yemen special envoy Martin Griffiths for independent verification that the truce is being honoured.
The UN confirmed that Mr Cammaert had chaired by video link and telephone on Wednesday the first meeting of the Redeployment Coordination Committee, set up after the ceasefire was agreed at peace talks in Sweden last week.
“General Cammaert reiterated the commitment of the UN to fulfil its obligations and commitments and to help the parties de-escalate tensions,” the secretary general’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York, from where the monitoring team will depart.
Of Yemen’s government and the Houthis, he added: “Both parties remain constructively engaged with the work of the committee and vowed to facilitate the work of the committee in good faith and to cooperate with the implementation of the Hodeidah agreement.”
The UN-brokered talks between Yemen’s internationally recognised government and the Iranian-backed rebels concluded last Thursday with them agreeing to the truce in Hodeidah, which diplomats pushed for to allow aid to reach the country which is under threat of famine.
The second phase of the agreement will see ports handed over to the UN and the third will see both sides withdraw from the city and its surroundings.
The ceasefire – which does not apply to the rest of the country – began at midnight on Monday night.
UN officials have admitted, however, that there has been a time-lag in communicating the ceasefire decision to fighters on the ground and that some battles have continued.
Mr Cammaert, a veteran of numerous UN peacekeeping missions, is leading a small advance team to Yemen. After landing in Jordan’s capital, Amman, from where the UN coordinates much of its work on Yemen, Mr Cammaert is to fly first to Sanaa, the war-torn country’s rebel-held capital, and then on to Hodeidah itself.
The UN Security Council is expected to debate a resolution later this week regarding monitoring and implementation of the ceasefire. A draft of the document was circulated on Monday but it is yet to be scheduled for a vote in the Council.
On Monday night, Mr Griffiths said that UN agencies have detailed plans on how to oversee the port facilities, which are the main route into Yemen for aid and vital imports of food and medicine.
Updated: December 19, 2018 11:11 PM