UN proposal calls for observers to monitor Yemen ceasefire

UNITED NATIONS – A proposed US resolution would create a political mission of the United Nations to oversee the implementation of a cease-fire and the withdrawal of rival forces from Yemen's main port of Hodeida.

The resolution drawn up by the British, which was obtained Friday by , would approve Secretary General Antonio Guterres' proposal for a maximum of 75 U.N. monitors for an initial period of six months.

The motion for a resolution says that the monitors would monitor the cease-fire in Hodeida and the surrounding area, mine clearance operations in Hodeida and the smaller ports of Salif and Ras Issa, and the regrouping of troops. They would also cooperate with the government of Yemen and Houthi Shiite rebels to ensure that local forces provide security in the three ports.

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

The Council voted unanimously on 21 December to allow the deployment of UN monitors to observe the implementation of the agreement between the Government and the Houthis signed in Stockholm on 13 December for the ceasefire in Hodeida and the surrounding area and the retreat of rival to follow forces. But that was only 30 days, so a new resolution is needed to expand the implementation and create a more permanent U.N. operation.

The ceasefire, which came into effect on December 18, has brought months of fierce fighting to a halt in Hodeida, the port of which accounts for 70% of food and humanitarian aid in Yemen.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday that there are currently about 20 monitors in Yemen, with the emphasis that their deployment also depends on the security situation, which he said to say the least & # 39; fairly delicate & # 39; called.

Although the cease-fire and withdrawal of troops are limited, the Stockholm Agreement, if fully implemented, could be a potential breakthrough in the four-year civil war of Yemen, which has put the poorest country in the Arab world on the brink of starvation. and the worst in the world has created a humanitarian crisis.

Martin Griffiths, the envoy of the United Nations for Yemen, told the Security Council on Wednesday that progress has so far been "gradual and cautious" and that no new talks between the warring parties will take place until "substantial progress" has been made.

Griffiths had said that there would be a new round of talks in January, but diplomats said he is now looking at February.

The envoy said that the government of Yemen and the Houthi Shiite rebels "largely held to ceasefire" but progress in the withdrawal of rival forces, humanitarian access and other issues agreed in Stockholm is slow. He mentioned a lack of confidence by the parties and said that there are many obstacles ahead.

But Griffiths said: "rapid implementation is crucial", and urged both parties to "regularly and in good faith" with the U.N. monitoring team led by the retired Dutch Major General Patrick Cammaert, who would lead the political mission.

Griffiths said that he is working with the Houthi & # 39; s and the government to ensure that the next round of talks "will take place as soon as possible" and that those consultations will not only follow the progress of the Stockholm Agreement, but also "the fundamental issues that need to be addressed to resolve this conflict. "

US humanitarian leader Mark Lowcock told the Council on Wednesday that the humanitarian situation in Yemen has not improved since the Stockholm Convention and remains "catastrophic", with 80 percent of the population – more than 24 million people – now in need of help. "They include nearly 10 million people who are only one step away from famine," he said.

The conflict in Yemen began with the takeover of Sanaa in 2014 by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who overthrew the government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. A Saudi-led coalition that has ties with the internationally recognized government of Yemen has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.

Saudi-led air strikes have hit schools, hospitals, and wedding parties, killing thousands of Yemeni civilians. The Houthi & # 39; s have fired long range missiles in Saudi Arabia and targeted ships in the Red Sea.

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