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UN Security Council to meet over Yemen observer mission

The United Nations Security Council will on Wednesday, January 9 discuss a proposal for a new observer mission to Yemen to monitor a ceasefire and oversee a pullback of forces, diplomats said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres outlined the proposal in a letter to the council seen by AFP after the Saudi-backed government and Houthi rebels agreed to a truce during talks in Sweden last month.

The new mission would provide for the initial deployment of up to 75 monitors to the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef and Ras Isa, backed by additional administrative and security staff, according to the proposal.

The international observers would “monitor the compliance of the parties to the ceasefire in Hodeida governorate and the mutual redeployment of forces from the city of Hodeidah and the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef and Ras Isa,” according to the document.

U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths will brief the council on Wednesday on his latest efforts to end the war following a new round of shuttle diplomacy in rebel-held Sanaa and in Riyadh.

On Tuesday, Griffiths met with Yemen’s President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi in Riyadh after holding talks with Houthi rebel leaders in the Yemeni capital Sana’a.

Fragile political process

The U.N. is proposing to bring the sides together again for a new round of talks later this month, probably in Kuwait.

The proposed mission “would contribute to sustaining the fragile political process recently relaunched by the special envoy,” said Guterres in his proposal.

“This would provide important support for the special envoy’s efforts to facilitate an inclusive political process with the aim of reaching a negotiated settlement that will bring about a permanent end to the conflict in Yemen.”

Once the council endorses the proposal, diplomats would begin negotiations on a draft resolution to formally establish the mission.

The U.N. has deployed a small team of about 16 international monitors to Yemen, led by Dutch general Patrick Cammaert, under a resolution adopted last month that backed the Stockholm agreement.

The council is expected to take action before the mandate of that advance team expires on January 20. Cammaert would also head the new observer mission, according to the proposal.

The war between the Houthis and troops loyal to the government escalated in March 2015, when President Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia and the Riyadh-led coalition intervened.

The conflict has unleashed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the U.N., which says 14 million Yemenis are on the brink of famine. More than 22 million people – three quarters of the population – now depend on humanitarian assistance to survive.

Hodeidah: The strategic port at the center of Yemen’s war

With reporting from AFP

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