Yemen: Head of UN mission monitoring Hodeidah ceasefire arrives

Patrick Cammaert, a retired general with experience in Sri Lanka and the DRC, will oversee the withdrawal of fighters.

The head of a United Nations mission tasked with monitoring a fragile ceasefire in Yemen’s strategic port city of Hodeidah has arrived Aden.

Patrick Cammaert, a retired Dutch general, with experience in Sri Lanka, Cambodia and the DRC, arrived in the southern city of Aden on Saturday and is due to meet government representatives before travelling to the rebel-held capital Sanaa and onwards to Hodeidah.

Cammaert’s team will secure the functioning of Hodeidah port, a key gateway for aid and food imports in the impoverished nation, as well as supervise the withdrawal of fighters from the flashpoint city.

His team’s arrival comes a day after the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution authorising the deployment of observers to Hodeidah, following negotiations in Sweden last week.

The ceasefire in Hodeidah, between Saudi-backed government forces and Houthi rebels, is seen as the first significant breakthrough in peace efforts since the war erupted in 2014.

The agreement was brokered at talks in Rimbo, some 60km north of the Swedish capital Stockholm, where a number of other confidence-building steps were agreed to boost confidence between the warring sides.

This includes a planned prisoner swap involving some 16,000 detainees.

‘Yemenis haven’t been forgotten’

Western nations have pressed the Saudi-UAE coalition to end the nearly four-year war in Yemen that has killed an estimated 60,000 people.

According to Save The Children, as many as 85,000 children may have starved to death.

On December 8, the UN said that as many as 20 million people in Yemen were “food insecure,” calling the situation the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis”.

Louis Charbonneau, the UN director for Human Rights Watch, said the resolution “sends an important message to the suffering people of Yemen that they haven’t been forgotten.”

Charbonneau also called on the Security Council to consider imposing “targeted sanctions” on those who violated the laws of war in Yemen, including “senior Saudi, Emirati and Houthi officials

The Saudi-UAE coalition, which receives arms and intelligence from the West, intervened in March 2015 to restore the government of Hadi who was toppled by the Houthis months earlier.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies