AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni soldiers have asked international monitors stationed in the southern port city of Hodeidah to visit their observation posts to document daily cease-fire breaches by Houthi militia.
Baha Khalefa, one of 10 government soldiers deployed at the joint observation posts, said the team faced death every day due to thousands of landmines and from sporadic shelling by Houthis.
“We have sent reports to our seniors complaining about the violations,” Khalefa told Arab News by telephone from Hodeidah. “We are walking on fields of landmines that put our lives at risk.”
Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the Iran-backed Houthi militants set up observation posts to monitor a cease-fire in the city’s main frontlines as part of a UN-brokered agreement signed in Stockholm.
The agency’s observers were tasked to monitor the truce and troop withdrawal from frontlines in Hodeida and the three ports in the city.
But soldiers say that international monitors in Hodeidah have never visited their posts at former flashpoints.
The government has long cast doubt on the Houthis’ adherence to the agreement, saying they were using the cease-fire to mobilize forces and dig new trenches.
Khalefa said that Houthis had mostly refused to defuse landmines or open key roads leading to Sanaa that go through government-controlled areas in the city.
“We want the international monitors to independently see the firsthand risks that we encounter. Our demining engineers defuse at least as many as 150 landmines every day. The Houthis refuse to remove landmines and reopen Al-Khameri and Kilo 16 roads.”
Houthis have planted thousands of landmines along the country’s western coast to slow down a major offensive by government forces aimed at liberating Hodeida. Yemeni government officials think that the UN has restricted movements of its monitoring team in Hodeida due to security concerns and landmines.