Advance UN truce monitors arrive in Yemen’s Hodeidah

Retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert in Aden. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 December 2018

Advance UN truce monitors arrive in Yemen’s Hodeidah

  • Retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert is heading a joint committee including members of the government and the Houthi rebels
  • He stopped in Sanaa before he arrived in Hodeidah

UNITED NATIONS: A UN advance team arrived in Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah on Sunday to start monitoring a cease-fire and withdrawal of forces agreed by the Iranian-aligned Houthi group and Saudi-backed government forces, the United Nations said.

The warring parties in Yemen’s nearly four-year war reached the deal at UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden earlier this month. The truce began on Tuesday but skirmishes continued on the outskirts of the city.

The UN Security Council on Friday unanimously approved the deployment — for an initial 30 days — of an advance monitoring team led by retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert. He is chair of a Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) that includes representatives from both sides of the conflict.

“General Cammaert is encouraged by the general enthusiasm of both sides to get to work, immediately. One of the priorities in the coming days will be the organization of the first joint RCC meeting, which is projected for 26 December,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

Cammaert’s team, which the United Nations has said will not be uniformed or armed, will oversee the truce and troop withdrawal from Hodeidah city and three ports.

The United Nations will also provide support for the management of and inspections at the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa; and strengthen its presence in the war-torn region.

Hodeidah, the main port used to feed Yemen’s 30 million people, has been the focus of fighting this year, raising fears abroad that a full-scale assault could cut off supplies to nearly 16 million people suffering from severe hunger.

The deal reached in Sweden is meant to pave the way for a wider cease-fire in the impoverished country and a second round of talks in January on a framework for political negotiations.

A Sunni Muslim Arab alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates entered the war in 2015 against the Houthis to restore the internationally recognized government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which was ousted from the capital Sanaa.

The Houthis control most urban centers, including Sanaa, while Hadi’s government is based in the southern port of Aden.


Greece to “shut the door” to migrants not entitled to asylum, PM says

Updated 56 min 53 sec ago

Greece to “shut the door” to migrants not entitled to asylum, PM says

  • The government announced plans to shut overcrowded refugee camps on islands and replace them with more restrictive holding centers
  • They want to move up to 20,000 people to the mainland by the end of the year

ATHENS: Greece said on Friday it was deploying more border guards to “shut the door” to migrants not entitled to stay, the latest sign of a hardening stance against asylum seekers since a new surge in the number of arrivals. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told parliament he had approved the hiring of 400 guards at Greece’s land border with Turkey and another 800 guards for its islands. Greece will also upgrade its sea patrolling operations, he said.
On Wednesday, the conservative government elected in July announced plans to shut overcrowded refugee camps on islands and replace them with more restrictive holding centers.
“Welcome in Greece are only those we choose. Those who are not welcomed will be returned,” Mitsotakis said. “We will permanently shut the door to illegal human traffickers, to those who want to enter although they are not entitled to asylum.”
Greece was the main gateway into the European Union for more than a million people fleeing conflict in 2015-16.
Migrant and refugee arrivals from neighboring Turkey have risen again, and more than 37,000 people are crammed into facilities on islands which operate far beyond their capacity.
The government wants to move up to 20,000 people to the mainland by the end of the year.
It has also designed a new framework to speed up the processing of asylum requests, which human rights groups have criticized as a “rushed” attempt that would impede access to a fair asylum process for refugees.