JEDDAH: UN monitors arrived in Yemen on Saturday to monitor a fragile cease-fire in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.
The head of the team, retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert, flew into Aden in southern Yemen, seat of the internationally recognized government backed by the Saudi-led coalition.
He will travel later to the capital, Sanaa, which is held by Iran-backed Houthi militias, and then by road to Hodeidah. Other members of the team flew directly to Sanaa from Amman in Jordan.
The sides in Yemen’s war agreed at UN-sponsored talks in Sweden this month to stop fighting in Hodeidah city and its province and withdraw forces. The truce began on Tuesday but skirmishes continued on the outskirts of the city.
On Friday the UN Security Council unanimously approved an initial 30-day deployment of Cammaert’s advance monitoring team.
They will not be uniformed or armed, the UN has said, but will provide support for the management and inspections at the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa, and strengthen the UN presence.
The agreement reached in Sweden, the first significant breakthrough in peace efforts in five years, is meant to pave the way for a wider cease-fire in Yemen and a second round of talks in January on a framework for political negotiations.
The UN views confidence-building measures in Hodeidah, and preventing a full-scale government and coalition military assault on the city, as a crucial first step.
The port is the main entry point to Yemen for food and humanitarian aid, but it is also a key smuggling route for Iranian arms and ammunition to the Houthis, including parts for missiles fired at Saudi Arabia.
The Yemeni government pledged its commitment to the agreement reached in Sweden and said it would work “in a positive spirit” with UN envoy Martin Griffiths toward a lasting political agreement to end the war.
Khalid Manzalawi, Saudi Arabia’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, said the UN resolution meant the Houthis “would lose their margin of maneuver.”