Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

UN extends monitoring of Hodeidah mandate for another six months

UN Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths is in Riyadh meeting with Yemeni government representatives

United Nations Security Council members vote on a resolution about Yemen's security at UN Headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 21, 2018. Reuters 
United Nations Security Council members vote on a resolution about Yemen's security at UN Headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 21, 2018. Reuters 

A UN mandate that supports a peace deal on a troop withdrawal from Yemen’s key port city of Hodeidah was extended by six months on Monday.

Yemen’s warring sides agreed to a ceasefire and troop withdrawal from Hodeidah during talks in Stockholm, Sweden, last December, which marked the first major breakthrough in peace efforts since the civil war began in 2015.

Yemen's Red Sea port of Hodeidah, which is controlled by the Iran-backed rebels, is the point of entry for most of the country's commercial goods and aid supplies.

A British drafted resolution asked the UN Security Council to extend its mandate until 15 January 2020 “to support the parties in implementing their commitments in accordance with the Hodeidah agreement and to lead and support the functioning of the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC).”

Danish Lt Gen Michael Lollesgaard, who leads the UN observer team in Hodeidah, heads the RCC.

The mandate is due to expire in the coming days.

The 15-member Security Council approval is seen as another attempt to ensure Yemen's warring parties stick to plans agreed to in Sweden to de-escalate the country's war.

Earlier this year, the UN approved 75 observers to be deployed in the port city to oversee the withdrawal of forces. The operation is known as the UN Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA).

Monday's extension is an attempt to “work with the parties so that the security of the city of Hodeidah and the ports of Hodeidah, Salif, and Ras Issa is assured by local security forces in accordance with Yemeni law,” said the resolution that was given to The National by a UN official.

Since its implementation last December, the deal has been on shaky ground with the government accusing the Houthi rebels of trying to undermine the agreement.

The extension also called on the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to report to the Security Council on a monthly basis on progress regarding the implementation of this resolution.

Mr Guterres must report on any obstructions to the “effective operation of UNMHA caused by any party; and on resolution 2451 (2018), including on any non-compliance by any party,” said the resolution.

The announcement comes as UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths met Saudi Deputy Defence Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman in Jeddah on Monday.

Mr Griffiths said he held “productive” discussions with Prince Khalid on ways to keep Yemen out of “ongoing regional tensions and to ensure progress is made in implementing the Stockholm deal with the support of the Kingdom.”

The UN official is due to meet with President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi for the first time since the Yemeni leader accused him of siding with the Houthi rebels.

“The purpose of the meetings will be to talk about the Stockholm agreement, on the withdrawal of troops from Hodeidah,” a UN official told The National.

After his visit to Saudi Arabia Mr Griffiths is expected to meet with Houthi officials in Sanaa on Wednesday.

Updated: July 15, 2019 07:35 PM

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