The UN envoy for Yemen called for the urgent deployment of UN monitors to observe the implementation of a ceasefire agreement in the strategic port city of Hodeidah and the withdrawal of rival forces.
Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on Friday that a speedy presence in the field is “an essential part of the confidence” needed to accompany the implementation of Thursday’s agreement between warring parties.
Griffiths emphasised the importance of the Houthi decision to withdraw Hodeidah and its three ports, which serve as a major lifeline for the 18 million Yemenis who live in the rebel-held territory.
As part of the agreement, the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef and Ras Isa would fall under the control of “local forces”, who would then send the ports’ revenue to the country’s central bank.
Griffiths said agreement and other confidence-building measures will help alleviate the suffering of millions of Yemenis.
“After two and a half years of missed opportunities, I think it’s fair to say that the political process to find a comprehensive solution to the conflict in Yemen has finally resumed,” Griffiths said.
“This is no small achievement, made possible first and foremost by the commitment of the parties and the credit goes to them.
“I was extremely impressed by their dedication. All made concessions, all engaged in depth and at length, intensively and in good faith.”
The week-long negotiations were the first between Yemen‘s internationally recognised and Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Houthi rebels who seized control of the capital Sanaa in 2014.
Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock said in his brief before the Security Council that while there’s reason to believe things will get better, the success of this week’s talks “must not lead to complacency”.
Lowcock outlined five measures aimed at preventing famine from taking hold in the war-stricken country, most markedly the protection of food supplies, as well as stabilising of the Yemeni economy.
“Our collective assessment is that the good news we have heard this week has not yet had any material impact on the millions of people who need assistance,” Lowcock said.
“Access, the economy and resources are major priorities. The lesson is two-fold: progress is absolutely possible, and we need much more of it right now.”
Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, has been devastated by a multisided conflict since 2014 involving local, regional, and international actors.
According to rights groups and a war monitor, more than 60,000 people have died since the conflict began.