The representatives of Yemen's warring parties have met on a ship in the Red Sea to discuss the stalled truce agreement for the contested port city of Hodeidah. Retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert chaired the meeting on board a United Nations' vessel off the Yemeni coast on Sunday after the Houthi rebels refused to hold talks in government-held areas, an official told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity. A Saudi-UAE coalition of forces has been fighting Houthi rebels for control of the country since 2014. As the negotiations took place, reports emerged that the deputy chief of staff of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government died from wounds sustained last month in a drone attack by Houthis on the country's largest airbase, Al Anad, while a military parade was under way. That attack came after a truce was agreed to in December in Sweden that included a ceasefire in rebel-held Hodeidah, a pullback of forces from the port city, and the opening of humanitarian corridors.
United Nations - The UN's peace deal for Hodeidah, in war-ravaged Yemen, is unravelling because the text lacked specifics on how rebel forces should vacate the Red Sea port city, the British charity Oxfam says. Dina el-Mamoun, the aid group's head of policy and advocacy in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, said the UN's Stockholm Agreement agreed last month between Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed government was "too vague". "There is an issue with the actual agreement, which is actually quite vague," Mamoun told Al Jazeera. "The UN should have made clear these basic issues that go to the heart of the agreement: who needs to hand over what and to whom." Under the terms of the UN-brokered deal, the Houthis were expected to hand over control of the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef and Ras Isa, to "local security forces in accordance with Yemeni law".
United Nations, New York - Houthi rebel and Yemeni government representatives did not meet face-to-face in the port city of Hodeidah over the past week despite a recently-inked peace plan, United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Monday. The UN's Patrick Cammaert has been forced to "shuttle" between the rebel and government sides, who had twice met together under the so-called Redeployment Coordination Committee (RDC) before those direct talks broke down, the UN said. Their refusal to sit together highlights the difficulty in implementing the UN-brokered deal, reached between the government and rebels on December 13 in Rimbo, Sweden. Dujarric said that Cammaert's meetings were aimed at finding a "mutually acceptable way forward for the redeployment of forces from the three ports and critical parts of the city associated with humanitarian facilities". Under the terms of the Rimbo deal, the Houthis were expected to hand over control of the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef and Ras Isa to local security forces in liaison with Cammaert and envoys from the Saudi-backed government.
The UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is expected to meet with Houthi officials in the capital, Sanaa, to discuss ways to implement a fragile ceasefire in the strategic port city of Hodeidah. Griffiths is scheduled to hold talks with Houthi leaders over the truce on Saturday, before meeting Patrick Cammaert, a retired Dutch general, who heads the ceasefire monitoring team in the port city. The UN envoy is then expected to travel to Saudi Arabia to meet Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and other senior government officials. According to the AFP news agency, Griffiths's visit to Saudi Arabia will attempt to bring the warring sides together later this month, possibly in Kuwait, to follow up on the "progress" made at last month's talks. Under that agreement, the first significant breakthrough in peace efforts since the war erupted in 2014, the Houthis were expected to hand over control of the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef and Ras Isa, to "local authorities in accordance with Yemen law".
Yemen has become the "worst humanitarian crisis in the world", the European Union said, demanding the protection of civilians who continue to die in the three-year-old conflict. An EU statement on Saturday highlighted the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, which recently witnessed a bloody assault that killed at least 55 people and was blamed on air strikes by the Saudi-Emirati coalition fighting there. An alliance spokesman denied responsibility for the carnage. "The consecutive air strikes in the city of Hodeidah have once again claimed dozens of lives with many people injured," the EU statement said. "This is a tragic reminder that in Yemen the international humanitarian law - in place to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure in times of war - continues to be broken on a daily basis."