Britain yesterday requested a vote at the UN Security Council on establishing a six-month observer mission to monitor a ceasefire in Yemen and oversee a pullback of forces, diplomats said.
The council is likely to vote today on the British-drafted resolution authorising the deployment of up to 75 monitors, according to diplomats. The unarmed monitors would be sent to the rebel-held city of Hodeidah and its port along with the ports of Saleef and Ras Issa for an initial period of six months. The port of Hodeidah is the entry point for the bulk of Yemen’s supplies of imported goods and humanitarian aid.
Talks between the Saudi-backed government and Houthi rebels last month in Sweden on ending the devastating war led to an agreement on the observer force. A first group of about 20 monitors was authorised by the council last month to begin work in Yemen, but their mandate expires on January 20.
The draft resolution calls on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to “expeditiously” deploy the United Nations Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA), led by retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert.
The UN says a ceasefire that went into force on December 18 in Hodeidah has been generally holding, but there have been delays in the redeployment of rebel and government forces from the city. The Houthis control most of Hodeidah while government forces are deployed on its southern and eastern outskirts.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday accused the rebels of failing to comply with the Hodeidah truce agreement, after he held talks in Riyadh with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.
Since the Saudi-led military coalition intervened in support of the government in March 2015, the conflict has unleashed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations. Nearly 10mn people in Yemen are on the brink of famine, according to UN aid officials, while 80% of the population — 24mn people — are in dire need of humanitarian aid.
JORDAN TO HOST MEETING
Meanwhile, Jordan agreed to a UN request to host a meeting between the Yemeni government and the Houthi group to discuss a prisoner swap deal that would allow thousands of families to be reunited, a Foreign Ministry statement said. The statement did not say when the meeting would take place.
The meeting is due to be of a follow-up committee set up to discuss implementing the deal agreed in UN peace talks last month in Sweden between the Iran-aligned Houthi movement and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government.
The deal to free prisoners simultaneously was part of confidence-building measures that included a plan to withdraw from the contested port city of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions facing famine, and place it under the control of an interim entity.
The two sides exchanged lists of some 15,000 prisoners for a swap agreed at the start of the Sweden talks and delegates said it would be conducted via the Houthi-held Sanaa airport in north Yemen and the government-held Sayun airport in the south.
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