UN: Yemen’s Houthis to withdraw from Hodeidah port | News

Yemen’s Houthi group has unilaterally agreed to withdraw forces from three key ports, the United Nations said on Friday, a move needed to pave the way for political negotiations to end the country’s four-year war.

The group will redeploy its fighters from the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef and Ras Isa over four days, starting on Saturday, said the UN mission to support a peace deal brokered in Sweden last December.

In a statement, the mission’s Redeployment Coordination Committee said the troop redeployment was “a first practical step on the ground” under the pact, which marked the first major breakthrough in peace efforts to end a war that has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.

The UN mission will monitor the redeployment, the statement said, adding that it must be followed by “the committed, transparent and sustained actions of the parties to fully deliver on their obligations”.

The move should allow the UN to take “a leading role in supporting the Red Sea Ports Corporation in managing the ports” and to enhance UN checks on cargoes.

Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, cautioned it was “too early to say” whether Friday’s announcement signalled an “actual breakthrough”.

“The Stockholm deal in December, brokered almost six months ago, said the Houthis should pull out and they haven’t done it yet,” Bays said.

“If the Houthis don’t do it this time, it could collapse the whole peace process,” he added.

Aid lifeline

Under the agreement, pro-government forces are also expected to leave positions around the outskirts of Hodeidah in the initial redeployment, before a second phase in which both sides pull back further.

The UN statement, however, did not mention any reciprocal move by pro-government forces, who are backed by a Saudi-UAE-led military coalition.

Shortly after the announcement, Moammar al-Eryani, Yemen’s information minister, said the offer of redeployment was “inaccurate and misleading”.

In a post on Twitter, al-Eryani added that any withdrawal that did not allow for joint monitoring and verification was unacceptable.

The coalition alleges the Houthis use Hodeidah as a landing point to smuggle weapons supplied by Iran into Yemen, a charge the Houthis have denied.

Humanitarian officials have long pleaded with Yemen’s warring sides to spare the port, which serves as the entry point for the bulk of Yemen’s commercial imports and a lifeline for aid supplies.

The conflict in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country and home to an estimated 28 million people, began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by Houthi rebels, who toppled the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Concerned by the rise of the Houthis, believed to be backed by Iran, the Saudi-UAE-led military coalition launched an intervention in 2015 in the form of a massive air campaign aimed at reinstalling Hadi’s government. 

The subsequent fighting and an ensuing economic collapse have unleashed the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis, pushing millions of people to the brink of starvation.

Al Jazeera and news agencies


more recommended stories

  • Trump says US warship ‘destroyed’ Iranian drone in Gulf | Iran News

    The United States says a US Navy ship.

  • Trump’s racism and American exceptionalism | USA

    The uproar over US President Donald.

  • Iran seizes foreign oil tanker for ‘smuggling oil’, crew arrested | Iran News

    Iran‘s Revolutionary Guard Corps have seized.

  • Crowd chants ‘send her back’ as Trump renews attacks on Omar | USA News

    US President Donald Trump has intensified.

  • ‘Wizard’ arrested after hack of most Bulgarian taxpayers’ details | News

    A 20-year-old Bulgarian cybersecurity worker was.

  • US slaps sanctions on Myanmar army chief over Rohingya abuses | News

    The United States has announced sanctions.

  • Religious restrictions on the rise globally: report | News

    Religious restrictions are on the rise.

  • Iran hits back at US demands on ballistic missiles, proxy groups | News

    Iran has hit back at US.

  • Malaysia parliament to debate move to lower voting age to 18 | News

    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Malaysia’s parliament.

  • El Salvador rape victim jailed for stillbirth goes on trial again | El Salvador News

    San Salvador, El Salvador – Evelyn.

  • Powerful earthquake rocks parts of eastern Indonesia | News

    A strong, shallow earthquake has struck.

  • Cricket: England beat New Zealand to win World Cup | News

    World Cup winners 1975 – West.

  • Barry weakens but Louisiana authorities warn threat remains | News

    Slow-moving tropical storm Barry has weakened.

  • Why is Turkey’s purchase of Russian weapons controversial? | USA

    A battle appears to be looming.

  • UK police warning to media over leaked memos stirs anger | News

    Senior British politicians, including both contenders.

  • The informal networks resisting Honduras’s abortion ban | Honduras

    Tegucigalpa, Honduras – At 22 years.

  • Suicide attack at Somalia hotel followed by gunfire | Somalia News

    A car bomb went off in.

  • Sudan’s ruling military council says coup attempt foiled | News

    Sudan‘s ruling military council (TMC) says.

  • Ghana’s president wants Africa-Europe relationship to change | Colonialism News

    Africa must change its relationship with.

  • Ex-UN chief joins chorus of concern over floods at Rohingya camps | News

    Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has.

  • US wants Senate-approved deal with Iran: US envoy Brian Hook | News

    The Trump administration wants a Senate-approved agreement.

  • After ISIL, children try to catch up with school in Mosul | ISIS/ISIL News

    Mosul, Iraq – It was the.

  • US wants military coalition to safeguard waters off Iran, Yemen | Iran News

    The United States says it is.

  • Israel’s separation wall endures, 15 years after ICJ ruling | News

    In the occupied West Bank, the.

  • Turkey seeks to arrest hundreds over alleged Gulen links | News

    Turkish prosecutors have ordered the arrest.

  • Iran: World powers won’t get a better nuclear deal | USA News

    Iran warned world powers they will.

  • Iran passes new nuclear deal limit as China blames US for crisis | News

    Iran has passed the uranium enrichment cap.

  • Trump hits back at UK envoy who called White House ‘inept’ | Trump News

    US President Donald Trump has hit back.

  • Indonesia: Tsunami warning issued after strong earthquake | News

    Indonesian authorities have issued a tsunami.

  • Anti-racists outnumber far-right Proud Boys at DC rally | USA News

    Washington, DC – Counterprotesters outnumbered members.

  • How can modern slavery be stopped? | UK

    They were told they’d get jobs.

  • Media haven or hell? The paradox of journalism in Turkey | Turkey

    In this special edition of the.