UN convenes warring sides in Yemen's Hodeidah

A ceasefire in the rebel-held city of Hodeidah is part of a peace push seen as the best chance yet of ending four years of devastating conflict.
Wednesday 26/12/2018
Major General Patrick Cammaert, a retired Dutch general who now leads the United Nations monitoring mission to oversee the UN-brokered ceasefire between the Houthi rebels and Saudi-backed government forces in the city of Hodeidah, is seen after his arrival to the Sana'a International Airport. (DPA)
Major General Patrick Cammaert, a retired Dutch general who now leads the UN monitoring mission to oversee the ceasefire between the Houthis and Saudi-backed government forces in the city of Hodeidah. (DPA)

DUBAI - A UN-led truce monitoring team including members of Yemen's warring sides held its first meeting in the flashpoint city of Hodeidah on Wednesday, a pro-government official told AFP.

"We are expecting a good outcome," said the official, who requested anonymity.

The ceasefire in the rebel-held city, whose Red Sea port is vital for millions at risk of starvation but is also suspected of being a transit point for Iranian military supplies to the Houthi rebels, is part of a peace push seen as the best chance yet of ending four years of devastating conflict.

Retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert is heading the joint committee including internationally recognised  government officials and Iran-supported Houthi rebels to oversee the truce.

Loyalist members of the committee were transported to the meeting from east of the city in UN vehicles, a Yemeni government official told AFP on condition anonymity.

Sporadic clashes on Wednesday morning underscored the fragility of the truce that began last week, as both sides accused each other of violating the ceasefire.

The war between the Shia Houthi rebels and troops loyal to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi escalated in 2015, when the Houthis tried to seize power in Sana'a, prompting a Saudi-led military coalition to intervene. 

Since then, the war has killed some 10,000 people, according to the World Health Organisation.

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

(AW staff with AFP)