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UN urges Yemen's warring sides to withdraw from key flash point port

The UN expressed 'grave concern' that key agreements have not been enacted [AFP]

Date of publication: 18 April, 2019

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The UN Security Council has urged Yemeni government forces and Houthi rebels to withdraw from Hodeida 'as soon as possible'.

The UN Security Council on Thursday urged Yemen's government fighters and Houthi rebels to pull back their forces from the key city of Hodeida "as soon as possible" in line with a ceasefire deal reached four months ago.

The council warned in a unanimous statement that it will "monitor the parties' compliance with the redeployment plans" as it awaits a report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on whether the sides are upholding commitments.

The redeployment of forces was agreed in December under a ceasefire deal reached in Sweden that offered the best hope in years of moving toward an end to the war that has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.

The council expressed "grave concern" that four months on, the agreements have not been implemented, but there was no threat of sanctions against those who are blocking the peace effort.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths told the council on Monday that the government and rebels had agreed to the operational details of the first long-delayed pullback of forces from Hodeida.

The United Nations announced a deal on the two-stage pullback from Hodeida city and its ports in February, but the redeployment failed to materialise on the ground and the peace effort has since stalled.

The World Health Organisation estimates nearly 10,000 Yemenis have been killed since 2015, when Riyadh and its allies, including the UAE and Egypt, intervened to prevent the government's defeat in the face of rebel advances.

Human rights groups say the real death toll is several times higher.

The conflict has pushed millions of Yemenis to the brink of mass starvation, in what the UN has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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