Troop withdrawal in Yemen's Hodeidah could start Tuesday, Wednesday: UN envoy Griffiths

 A redeployment of forces in Yemen's Hodeidah by the warring parties could start "possibly even today or tomorrow," UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on Tuesday. (AP/File Photo)
Updated 19 February 2019

Troop withdrawal in Yemen's Hodeidah could start Tuesday, Wednesday: UN envoy Griffiths

  • The Iranian-backed Houthi movement and Arab coalition agreed in talks in December to withdraw troops by Jan. 7
  • The UN said on Sunday that the parties had reached agreement on phase one of a troop redeployment

LONDON: A redeployment of forces in Yemen's Hodeidah by the warring parties could start "possibly even today or tomorrow," United Nations Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday.

The Iran-aligned Houthi movement and the Saudi-backed government agreed at talks in Sweden in December to withdraw troops by Jan. 7 from the Red Sea city under a truce aimed at averting a full-scale assault on the port and paving the way for negotiations to end the four-year war.

But the pact stalled over control of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions facing famine. After weeks of diplomacy, the United Nations said on Sunday the parties had reached agreement on phase one of a troop redeployment.

"With the beginning, possibly even today or tomorrow, of the implementation of that part of the Hodeidah agreement we now have the opportunity to move from the promise made in Sweden to hope now for Yemen," Griffiths told the 15-member council.

Griffiths said phase one of the redeployment of forces would "facilitate humanitarian access to the Red Sea Mills."

The World Food Programme grain stores at the Red Sea Mills are enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month and have been inaccessible for more than five months.

Griffiths urged the parties to agree on the details of the second phase of troop withdrawals, which entails full redeployment of both parties' forces in Hodeidah province.


Syria Kurds hand over four Daesh-linked children to Germany

Updated 19 August 2019

Syria Kurds hand over four Daesh-linked children to Germany

  • They included a boy and two sisters who had lost both parents, and a fatherless girl infant
  • A spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry confirmed the handover to staff from its consulate

SIMALKA CROSSING: The Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria on Monday handed over four children linked with the Daesh group to Germany, their first such repatriation to the European country, an official said.
“The autonomous region handed over four children from Daesh families to a delegation from Germany,” said Fanar Kaeet, a foreign affairs official with the Kurdish authorities.
They included a boy and two sisters who had lost both parents, and a fatherless girl infant who was repatriated for health reasons, Kurdish authorities said.
All are under 10 years old, they said.
A spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry confirmed the handover to staff from its consulate in neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan at the Simalka border crossing.
“I can confirm that four children who were in custody in northern Syria were able to leave Syria,” she said.
“The children were received on the Iraqi-Syrian border by staff of the consulate in Irbil and will be given to family members,” the spokeswoman said.
“From there, the children and their family members will, we believe, travel to Germany.”
Syria’s Kurds have spearheaded the US-backed fight against Daesh in Syria, and in March expelled the extremists from their last patch of territory in the war-torn country’s far east.
Even as they fight remaining sleeper cells, thousands of alleged Daesh fighters and family members are being held in their custody.
These include hundreds of suspected foreign fighters in their jails, and thousands of their alleged family members in overcrowded camps.
Western countries have been largely reluctant to repatriate their nationals.
But France and Belgium have brought a handful of orphans home, while the United States last year repatriated a woman with her four children.
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kosovo have repatriated dozens of women and children.
Daesh overran large parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” there, but offensives in both countries have seen them lose that territory.
A dozen children of alleged jihadist fighters have been repatriated from Iraq to Germany since March.