Initial Hodeidah withdrawals agreed to in Yemen

UN envoy Martin Griffiths told the Security Council that “both parties have now accepted a detailed redeployment plan” for the first stage of the pullback from Hodeida.
Monday 15/04/2019
United Nations envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths, gestures as he arrives to a meeting with Houthi-appointed local officials in Hodeidah, Yemen January 29, 2019. (Reuters)
United Nations envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths, gestures as he arrives to a meeting with Houthi-appointed local officials in Hodeidah, Yemen January 29, 2019. (Reuters)

Yemen’s warring factions accepted a detailed plan for the withdrawal of their forces from the strategic port city of Hodeidah, The UN envoy for Yemen revealed on April 15.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths told the Security Council that “both parties have now accepted a detailed redeployment plan” for the first stage of the pullback from Hodeida.

Griffiths said he received assurances from Houthi leader Abdul Malik al Houthi when they met in Sanaa last week that his forces would support the Hodeidah agreement, but the envoy sounded a note of caution after so many delays.

“Let us be clear that when — and I hope it is when and not if — these redeployments happen, they will be the first voluntary withdrawal of forces in this long conflict,” he said by video conference from Amman, according to Agence France-Presse.

“Both parties have now accepted the detailed redeployment plan for phase one Hodeidah. The Special Envoy is grateful to both parties for the constructive engagement which has allowed us to reach this point,” Griffiths said on his Twitter feed.

“The positive developments in Hodeidah have already shown what can be achieved through dialogue and compromise. The Special Envoy hopes the parties recognise this and build on it.” He added.

Griffiths said the next step would be to iron out issues related to the second phase of redeployment and to the status of local security forces.

Violence has decreased since the agreement was struck late last year, but the economic situation in Yemen remains fragile, Griffiths said.

The detailed plan on the pullback was negotiated by Danish General Michael Lollesgaard who heads a UN monitoring mission.

Following the deal on the first stage, Lollesgaard will now focus on the second phase and seek to resolve disputes over the deployment of local forces in areas from where there has been a pullback.

The redeployment of forces was agreed in December under a ceasefire deal reached in Sweden that offered the best hope in years of moving toward an end to the war that has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.

UN diplomats have said the Houthis refused to pull away from Hodeidah ports as part of the first stage, citing fears that forces linked to the Saudi-led coalition will move in to take over those facilities.

The conflict, which pits the government backed by a Saudi-led coalition against the Iran-allied Houthi rebels, is now in its fifth year and has had a devastating impact on Yemen's economy and caused the world's largest humanitarian crisis.