DUBAI: A hard-won truce in the battleground Yemeni city of Hodeidah will collapse if militia violations persist and the UN does not intervene, the Saudi-led coalition said on Wednesday.
UN observers are due to arrive in the Red Sea port city during the day to chair monitoring teams made up of Yemeni government and Houthi representatives tasked with overseeing the implementation of the cease-fire that took effect on Tuesday.
“A total of 21 violations since cease-fire commencement have come to our notice,” a coalition source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“If the UN continues to drag the chain and take too long to get into the (military) theater, they will lose the opportunity altogether... and the agreement will turn a dead duck,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said in English.
“We will continue to give them the benefit of the doubt and show restraint but early indicators are not promising.”
The coalition urged the UN to quickly deploy officers to oversee the withdrawal of the opposing forces from the city and its outskirts, warning that the truce could break down.
A UN team led by a Dutch general is expected to travel to Hodeidah later this week.
Meanwhile, the coalition bombed an air base next to Sanaa’s international airport, destroying a rocket launcher and a drone that it said was preparing to carry out an attack.
It said the Houthis are using the airport “as a military camp in violation of international humanitarian law.”
An aid group meanwhile said that more than half-a-million displaced people in Yemen face the “double threat” of famine and freezing temperatures as winter sets in.
In addition to the UN-supervised withdrawal of fighters from Hodeidah, the International Committee of the Red Cross is due to oversee a promised exchange of around 15,000 prisoners.
A “mutual understanding” was also reached to facilitate aid deliveries to Yemen’s third city Taiz — under the control of loyalists but besieged by the Houthi militia.
Hodeidah residents said on Tuesday they hoped the truce would lead to lasting peace in the war-ravaged Arabian Peninsula country.
“We hope that this cease-fire agreement holds and for this war to end because the people of Yemen have had enough of this wicked war,” Amine Awad said.