Middle EastWar

Yemen: Head of UN monitor team arrives in rebel-held capital Sana’a

The head of the United Nations team tasked with monitoring a fragile ceasefire in Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah arrived in the rebel-held capital of Sana’a on Sunday, December 23, an AFP photographer said.

Retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert is heading a joint committee including members of the government and the Houthi rebels, in charge of monitoring a truce in the Red Sea city and its surroundings.

Cammaert was greeted by head of the Houthi delegation, Ali al-Mushki, and a number of other members of the U.N. team at Sana’a international airport. He did not comment upon arrival.

He is making a stop in Sana’a before heading to Hodeidah, a lifeline port city that serves as the entry point for the majority of imports to war-torn Yemen, a U.N. official said, after holding talks Saturday with Yemen government officials in Aden.

On Saturday, Cammaert urged the government and the Saudi-led coalition backing the Yemeni government to uphold the ceasefire that came into effect last week, said U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

He also “sought their commitment and cooperation to secure the unhindered flow of humanitarian aid,” said Dujarric, adding that Cammaert will “convey similar messages” to the Houthis in Sana’a.

On Friday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the deployment of observers to Hodeidah, which is held by the rebels and has been subjected to an offensive by pro-government forces.

A halt to fighting in the strategic port city follows intense diplomatic efforts which culminated in peace talks earlier this month in Sweden, where the warring parties agreed to the truce which came into force on Tuesday.

The ceasefire remained shaky, however, with both sides accusing each other of violations in Hodeidah province.

The U.N. monitoring team aims to secure the functioning of Hodeidah port and supervise the withdrawal of fighters from the city.

The text approved by the Security Council “insists on the full respect by all parties of the ceasefire agreed” for Hodeidah.

It authorisez the United Nations to “establish and deploy, for an initial period of 30 days from the adoption of this resolution, an advance team to begin monitoring” the ceasefire, under Cammaert’s leadership.

Around 10,000 people have been killed since the Saudi-led intervention, according to the World Health Organization, although rights groups say the death toll could be five times higher.

The conflict has unleashed a major humanitarian crisis and pushed 14 million Yemenis to the brink of famine.

With reporting from AFP

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