Yemen‘s internationally recognised government and the Houthi rebels have agreed to set up four observation posts to monitor a fragile ceasefire in the flashpoint port city of Hodeidah, according to the United Nations.
In a statement on Wednesday, Abhijit Guha, the head of the UN’ s Hodeidah mission, welcomed the establishment of the posts, which are designed to facilitate “direct inter-party de-escalation in flash point areas seen as susceptible to conflict.|
“The two parties finalised written agreements in all four locations and deployed liaison officers at each observation post,” it added.
Guha called on all warring parties to reduce rhetoric and support efforts to maintain the ceasefire in Hodeidah.
Yemen’s conflict broke out in late 2014 with the Houthis’ takeover of the capital, Sanaa. The war escalated in March 2015 when a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates launched a ferocious air campaign against the rebels in a bid to restore the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
In December 2018, a ceasefire and troop redeployment agreement for Hodeidah was reached at UN-sponsored talks between Hadi’s government and the Houthis in Sweden as a trust-building measure to pave the way for wider negotiations to end the war.
The tentative ceasefire has reduced, but not stopped, violence and the troop withdrawal stalled for many months before a pull-out by the Houthis from three Red Sea ports in May under phase one of the deal.
Now in its fifth year, the war in the region’s poorest country has killed tens of thousands of people and left millions suffering amid a lack of food and medical care.
Hodeidah, Yemen’s main port and a lifeline for millions of Yemenis on the brink of starvation, became the focus of the conflict last year when the coalition tried twice to seize it to cut off the Houthis’ main supply line.
Riyadh sees Hodeidah port as the main entry point of weapons for the Houthis and has accused their regional rival Iran of sending missiles to the rebels, a charge Tehran has denied.