SHAFAQNA- The first significant breakthrough for U.N.-led peace efforts in five years of conflict; Yemen’s warring parties agreed on ceasefire in Hodaidah and withdraw their troops. UN said both sides will withdraw from city under deal.
Talks in Sweden between Yemen‘s warring parties on Thursday led to a major breakthrough in blunting a devastating war that has killed thousands and driven the country to famine, with both sides agreeing on a ceasefire in a key port that acts as a lifeline for millions.
An agreement on Hodaidah port
At the close of a week of talks in Sweden, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said a framework for political negotiations would be discussed at the next round of talks between Houthis and the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Reuters reported.
“You have reached an agreement on Hodaidah port and city, which will see a mutual re-deployment of forces from the port and the city, and the establishment of a governorate-wide ceasefire,” said Guterres. “The U.N. will play a leading role in the port,” he told a news conference in Rimbo, outside Stockholm.
UN troops would be dispatched to Hodaidah
In a statement released near the end of peace talks this week in Sweden, Mr Guterres said that UN troops would be dispatched to Hodaidah, where the organisation will also help distribute much-needed aid, Telegraph told.
The ceasefire will hold both in the city of Hodaidah, which is the principal life-line for two-thirds of the country, and the broader province, the UN chief added.
Further talks on those subjects are due in early 2019
A “mutual understanding” was also struck in the nation’s embattled third city of Taiz, although few details were released. There was no agreement, however, on ending the fighting elsewhere in Yemen.
Nor has a deal been struck on a political framework or the reopening of the rebel-held Sanaa airport. Further talks on those subjects are due in early 2019.
A Redeployment Coordination Committee including both sides will oversee the ceasefire and withdrawal, according to the agreement. It will be chaired by the UN and report weekly to the UN Security Council, the National reported.
Western nations, some of which supply arms and intelligence to the Saudi-led coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015, had pressed the two sides to agree confidence-building steps to pave the way for a wider truce and a political process to end the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people.
“Today’s agreement in Stockholm between the Yemeni Government and the Houthis is an important step towards ending the conflict in Yemen – the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. “We have been working with the United Nations to bring the two sides in this terrible conflict together for the first time in years, including through constructive talks with key Saudis and Emiratis during my recent visits, and regular discussions with Oman”, British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt said.
The US senate voted on Wednesday to press ahead with a resolution ending US military support to the Saudis and their allies in Yemen.
The conflict has pushed Yemen, the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula, to the verge of famine. The World Food Programme said the Hodaidah deal was a much-needed boost for its task of feeding 12 million severely hungry Yemenis. The UK-based observer group Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLEDP) said the official UN death toll of 10,000 was likely a vast underestimate. Its own survey put the toll at more than 60,000.