Clashes erupt in Yemen's Hodeidah ahead of UN envoy's visit
Heavy clashes erupted Saturday between Yemeni government troops and Houthi rebels in the port city of Hodeidah, just hours ahead of a visit to the rebel-held capital Sanaa by UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths.
The fighting flared up near Hodeidah University and the Rabasah quarter in the southern edge of the port city despite a UN-brokered ceasefire duringthe peace talks in Stockholm last month. The rival forces traded accusations, blaming each other for breaching the truce and undermining the ongoing peace process.
Under the truce deal, known as the Stockholm agreement, signed between the government and the Houthi group, the troops withdrawal from the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa, and critical parts of the city associated with humanitarian facilities should be completed within two weeks after the cease-fire enters into force, while the full troops withdrawal should be completed within a maximum period of 21 days.
The Houthi group last week allegedly started withdrawing from the Hodeidah ports in order to "implement the first phase of redeployment." While the UN claimed that "any redeployment (from Hodeidah ports) would only be credible if all parties and the UN are able to observe and verify that it is in line with the Stockholm agreement."
To monitor the ceasefire and ensure that "credible redeployment is achieved," the UN sent Patrick Cammaert as head of the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) to Hodeidah city last week.
Griffiths was due to arrive in Sanaa Saturday in a bid to cement the fragile ceasefire, the UN headquarters in New York said in a statement a day earlier.
(Top photo: Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom (L), UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (M) and UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths attend peace talks over the Yemen issue in Stockholm, Sweden, December 13, 2018. /VCG Photo)