UN seeks to expand mission to oversee Hodeida ceasefire


UN seeks to expand mission to oversee Hodeida ceasefire

New York - Diplomats said the Security Council is expected to vote on the draft resolution next week.


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Published: Sun 13 Jan 2019, 10:47 PM

A proposed UN resolution would establish a United Nations political mission to oversee implementation of a ceasefire and the withdrawal of rival forces from Yemen's key port of Hodeida.
The British-drafted resolution would approve Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' proposal for up to 75 UN monitors to be deployed for an initial period of six months.
The draft resolution says the monitors would oversee the ceasefire in Hodeida and the surrounding area, demining operations at Hodeida and the smaller ports of Salif and Ras Issa, and the redeployment of forces.
They would also work with Yemen's government and Houthi rebels to assure that local forces provide security at the three ports.
Diplomats said the Security Council is expected to vote on the draft resolution next week.
The council voted unanimously December 21 to authorise the deployment of UN monitors to observe implementation of the agreement between the government and the Houthis signed in Stockholm on December 13 to monitor the ceasefire in Hodeida and the surrounding area and the pullout of rival forces. But that was only for 30 days, so a new resolution is needed to extend the deployment and establish a more permanent UN operation.
The ceasefire, which went into effect on December 18, has halted months of heavy fighting in Hodeida, whose port handles 70 per cent of the food and humanitarian aid imported into Yemen.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday that there are currently about 20 monitors in Yemen, stressing that their deployment also hinges on the security situation, which he called "fairly delicate, to say the least".
While the ceasefire and withdrawal of forces are limited, the Stockholm agreement, if fully implemented, could offer a potential breakthrough in Yemen's four-year civil war that has brought the country to the brink of starvation and created the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
Martin Griffiths, the UN envoy for Yemen, told the Security Council that progress so far has been "gradual and tentative" and new talks between the warring sides won't take place until there is "substantive progress". Griffiths had said there would be a new round of talks in January but diplomats said he is now looking to February.
The envoy said Yemen's government and Houthi rebels "have largely adhered" to the ceasefire, but progress on a pullout of rival forces, humanitarian access and other issues agreed to in Stockholm has been slow. He cited a lack of trust by the parties and said there will be many hurdles ahead.
But Griffiths said "speedy implementation is crucial," and urged both sides "to engage regularly and in good faith" with the UN monitoring team under retired Dutch Maj-Gen. Patrick Cammaert, who would head the political mission.
Griffiths said that he is working with the Houthis and the government to make sure the next round of talks "will happen at the earliest possible date", and that those consultations will not only monitor progress on the Stockholm agreement but discuss "the fundamental issues that need to be addressed to resolve this conflict".
UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told the council that the humanitarian situation in Yemen hasn't improved since the Stockholm agreement and "remains catastrophic", with 80 per cent of the population - over 24 million people - now in need of assistance. "They include nearly 10 million people just one step away from famine," he said.

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