21 January 2019

Yemen's warring parties agree to ceasefire in Hodeidah

KONFRONTASI-Yemen's warring sides agreed to terms on a ceasefire on Thursday for the strategic port city of Hodeidah, which serves as a major lifeline for 18 million Yemenis who live in Houthi-held areas.

The agreement is seen as a major breakthrough on the final day of peace talks in Sweden.

According to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the Houthis have agreed to withdraw from all three ports in Hodeidah. The withdrawal will take place in two short phases, he said.

"It is obvious the UN will play an important role in the port, probably a monitoring role and the management of that port," Guterres said, adding that this will help "facilitate the humanitarian flow of goods to the civilian population and it will improve the living conditions for millions of Yemenis."

UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, added that "the designs of the withdrawal, first from the port, will happen very quickly - within days - and then from the city, with both sides disengaging".

He also said that the ceasefire is "designed to open up that east-west road [that connects Hodeidah and Sanaa] so that the humanitarian pipeline, which is crucial to the people of Yemen can start delivering aid".

Representatives from the Yemeni government and Houthis rebels had been holding closed-door discussions with Griffiths since last Thursday aimed at discussing ways to end the fighting that, according to a war monitor and rights groups, has killed more than 60,000 people.

Restrictions by a Saudi-UAE coalition, which controls Yemen's waters, on goods entering the port have exacerbated Yemen's humanitarian crisis, with some 22 million people currently needing assistance.

"The war in Yemen has gone on for four years. Four devastating years of suffering for the Yemeni people," Guterres said.

He added there has also been an agreement to ease the situation in the flashpoint city of Taiz.

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