Houthis said to violate uneasy truce in Hodeidah

UN observers are being sent to Yemen to lead monitoring teams overseeing the ceasefire.
Friday 21/12/2018
Houthi militants patrol a street in Hodeidah, Yemen, on December 10, 2018. (Reuters)
Unbroken spiral. Houthi militants patrol a street in Hodeidah, Yemen, on December 10, 2018. (Reuters)

LONDON – Iran-backed Houthi rebels broke an uneasy calm in Hodeidah December 21, hours before the UN Security Council was to discuss a resolution to authorise UN ceasefire monitors in the Yemeni port city.

Rebels reportedly fired two missiles at a government-controlled village in violation of a UN-brokered ceasefire reached in Sweden. The missiles, apparently fired at Al Nakheela village near Hodeidah, fell short of the village without causing casualties.

On December 20, members of the government forces were killed and others were injured in Houthi attacks in the province, military sources said.

An official with the Coalition Supporting Legitimacy in Yemen said the “level of intensity” of Houthi militia attacks had decreased, which was “a positive sign but too early to draw concrete conclusions.”

UN observers were being sent to Yemen to lead monitoring teams overseeing implementation of the ceasefire. The chairman of a UN committee, retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert, was expected in Hodeidah soon, a Western diplomat said.

A UN official said Cammaert would be accompanied by eight members of an advance team and that other observers would follow.

The monitors’ job is to report if the ceasefire is working. There have been numerous reports of breaches and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths have requested independent verification that the truce is being honoured.

The UN-brokered talks between Yemen’s internationally recognised government and the rebels concluded December 13 with an agreement to the truce in Hodeidah, which diplomats pushed for to allow aid to reach the country, which is under threat of famine.

The second phase of the agreement includes handing ports over to the United Nations and a third will see both sides withdraw from the city and its surroundings.

The UN Security Council scheduled a vote on a UK-drafted resolution. Deliberations on the resolution included Iran’s role in backing Houthis and warnings against arms transfers to the insurgents.

British Ambassador to the United Nations Michael Aron said he hoped for tangible progress on the resolution on Yemen. He said he talked with Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi about the draft.

Cammaert convened the first meeting of the Redeployment Coordination Committee by video link and telephone December 19 “to discuss the general outlines of its work, including agreement of a code of conduct,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Guterres was “breathing down the neck” of officials to make sure UN observers are deployed as soon as possible, Dujarric said. He said Cammaert would head to Jordan, where Griffiths has his regional office, before travelling to Sana’a and Hodeidah.

Yemeni Brigadier-General Ahmed al-Kokbani, a Yemeni government representative on the committee, said the video conference with Cammaert covered the committee’s mission.

“Cammaert asked members of the team to work diligently in calming the situation and to reject any violations,” he said.