Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 August 2019

UN team given 30 days to monitor Yemen ceasefire

A truce in Hodeidah between government forces and Houthi rebels is the cornerstone of peace efforts

Members of Houthi militia wait to visit the graves of their comrades allegedly killed in ongoing fighting, at a cemetery in Sana'a, Yemen, 21 December 2018 EPA/YAHYA ARHAB
Members of Houthi militia wait to visit the graves of their comrades allegedly killed in ongoing fighting, at a cemetery in Sana'a, Yemen, 21 December 2018 EPA/YAHYA ARHAB

A UN team was on Friday given an initial period of 30 days to monitor a ceasefire between government forces and Houthi rebels in Yemen's port city of Hodeidah and surrounding areas, with any breaches to be reported by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the Security Council.

The mandate came in a resolution unanimously adopted by the 15-member council, one week after Martin Griffiths, the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, said there was an urgent need that the truce be verified on the ground.

The council spent three days wrangling over a British-drafted text. America had sought a resolution that would have explicitly called out Iran for violating an arms embargo to Yemen, through the supply of weapons to the Houthis. Russia had said it would not support any censure of Iran and the wording was removed from the final text.

The adopted resolution authorises the Secretary-General to establish and deploy an advance team to begin monitoring the ceasefire and to implement the Stockholm Agreement that came out of UN-brokered peace talks between the Houthis and Yemen's internationally-recognised government in Sweden last week. Mr Guterres will report to the Council on a weekly basis regarding the ceasefire and the situation in Yemen.

The resolution was greeted with support from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the main powers in the Arab-led coalition that backs Yemen's government.

The resolution “insists on the full respect by all parties of the ceasefire agreed for Hodeidah governorate... and the mutual redeployment of forces to be carried out from the city of Hodeidah and the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa to agreed locations outside the city and the ports within 21 days of the ceasefire coming into force”.

The warring sides must also commit “not to bring any military reinforcements to the city, the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa, and the governorate” as well as give “a commitment to remove any military manifestations from the city, all of which is central to the successful implementation of the Stockholm Agreement”.

The second phase of the agreement will see ports handed over to the UN. Mr Griffiths has said detailed plans are in place on how to oversee the port facilities, which are the main route into Yemen for aid and vital imports of food and medicine.

The UN monitoring team will be led by retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert, a veteran commander of peacekeeping operations, who left New York for Amman on Thursday from where he and others are expected to fly to Yemen by Saturday.

Mr Cammaert chaired by video link and telephone on Wednesday the first meeting of the Redeployment Coordination Committee, set up after the ceasefire agreement.

There have been numerous reports of the ceasefire – which does not apply to the rest of the country – being breached.

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Read more:

Yemen: Hodeidah ceasefire is working, says UN envoy Martin Griffiths

Observers fear Hodeidah deal may not lead to end of Yemen's war

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The Security Council resolution gives the UN Secretary-General until December 31 to submit proposals “on how the United Nations will fully support the Stockholm Agreement as requested by the parties, including, but not limited to: substantive monitoring operations for the ceasefire and mutual redeployment of forces from the city of Hodeidah and the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa”.

It also backs Mr Griffiths' efforts for a new round of talks between Yemen's government and the Houthis in January, asking the parties to engage in the negotiations in good faith.The ceasefire came after diplomats pushed for it to allow aid to reach the country which is under threat of famine.

The resolution also “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, onward road access throughout the country, and the reopening and safe and secure operation of Sana’a airport for commercial flights”.

UAE foreign minister Anwar Gargash praised the resolution, saying it sends a "strong message" on Twitter. He also thanked UK, USA, Kuwait and other Security Council members for their part in the process.

Updated: December 21, 2018 11:10 PM

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