Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 August 2019

Yemen peace talks: What we know about the Hodeidah ceasefire

The National obtained a copy of the agreement announced by UN chief Antonio Guterres in Sweden

Yemen's foreign minister Khaled al-Yamani (L) and rebel negotiator Mohammed Abdelsalam (R) shake hands under the eyes of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (C), during peace consultations. AFP
Yemen's foreign minister Khaled al-Yamani (L) and rebel negotiator Mohammed Abdelsalam (R) shake hands under the eyes of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (C), during peace consultations. AFP

Yemen’s warring parties on Thursday reached a landmark agreement to withdraw their forces from Hodeidah city and its key ports as part of a wider ceasefire deal, that officials have described as a promising step towards easing the country’s humanitarian crisis and de-escalating fighting in the war-torn country.

The National obtained a copy of the agreement announced by UN chief Antonio Guterres at the closing session of UN-backed consultations in the rural Swedish town of Rimbo.

Here are some of the main points included in the deal.

Ceasefire

An immediate ceasefire by warring parties will go into effect in the city and in the three ports of Hodeidah, Ras Issa and Al Saqef.

Troop withdrawal

According to the agreement, armed forces from both sides will withdraw from three ports, Hodeidah, Ras Issa and Al Saqef within days. A redeployment of both forces will follow, limited to agreed-upon posts outside of Hodeida city, within a maximum of 21 days from the ceasefire. The parties shall abstain from dispatching any military reinforcements to the city and ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa, the document of the agreement states.

Redeployment Co-ordination Committee

A Redeployment Co-ordination Committee chaired by the United Nations and comprised of, but not limited to, members of the warring parties shall be established to oversee the cease-fire and the re-deployment. The committee will supervise the re-deployment and will monitor compliance with the deal. It shall also oversee de-mining operations in the three port. The chairman of the committee will report on a weekly basis to the Security Council.

Deployment of neutral forces

The agreement places the Red Sea port city under control of local forces recognised by the Yemeni government. Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled Al Yamani, declined to specify whether the forces would be solely state security forces but said they would report to the "central authority.” Such a plan has been long-mooted as a way to solve the protracted battle for the city. Meanwhile, the UN will play a "leading role" in supporting management and inspections at the ports.

Establishment of humanitarian corridors

The UN will play an important role in monitoring the ports and ensuring that humanitarian aid gets delivered to millions of Yemenis on the brink of famine. By demilitarizing Hodeidah, the UN will deliver aid to those living in areas whose supply routes have been cut off from the intensification of the battle on the west coast. The east-west road has been cut off during intensified clashes between the two sides.

The deal also calls for the creation of a joint committee overseen by the United Nations to supervise the establishment of humanitarian corridors to Taiz, Yemen's third city.

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