Yemen’s warring parties are observing the first day of a UN-negotiated ceasefire in the key port city of Hodeidah، opening the way for monitors to enter the area and start the process of administering a formal withdrawal of troops over the next month، as the Guardian said.
The UN special envoy for Yemen، Martin Griffiths، who negotiated the breakthrough agreement at talks in Sweden last week، said he expected the retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert to be deployed to Hodeidah by Wednesday under UN authority to oversee the ceasefire and the two-phase troop withdrawal.
Griffiths said the ceasefire was breached soon after it came into force at midnight on Tuesday but since then the skies had been silent.
He told BBC Radio 4: “So far، so good، fingers crossed. There was some skirmishing between one and two o’clock on the frontlines. The skies are quiet above Hodeidah. The pattern at the moment is a positive one.”
He said the monitoring committee chaired by Cammaert would meet for the first time on Wednesday. The aim was for the first phase of withdrawal to be completed by the end of the year and the second phase – taking troops out of the port area – by the middle of January، allowing aid to travel freely on the road from Hodeidah to the capital، Sana’a.
He stressed that further progress was needed on economic reform، since the risk of famine partly stemmed from the cost of food and the collapse in the value of the rial rather than a lack of supplies.
Both the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels that have controlled the port and Hodeidah city and the Saudi-backed supporters of the Yemeni government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi may have surprised themselves with the speed at which the ceasefire was negotiated in Sweden. On Twitter، leaders from both sets of negotiating teams defended the deal and their part in agreeing the ceasefire.
Detailed work is under way on a mass prisoner swap، the terms of which were outlined by the special envoy’s office on Monday.
Cammaert faces big problems in negotiating troop withdrawals، and regarding the makeup of a new civilian security force and the details of how the UN will check that revenues from the port are not being siphoned off to Houthi militia.
Many Yemeni experts point out that vested interests on both sides profit financially from the war and have motives to sabotage an agreement. The Red Sea port is the gateway for most aid into the country.