Yemen's Houthis offer unilateral withdrawal from key ports in coming days

Yemen's Houthis offer unilateral withdrawal from key ports in coming days - UN

Yemeni Houthis to Withdraw Forces From 3 Key Ports Over 4 Days - Reports

Under the plan, the Houthis will make an "initial unilateral redeployment" between May 11 and May 14 from the ports of Saleef, which is used for grain, and Ras Isa, used for oil, as well as the country's main port of Hodeida, according to a RCC statement. Two ships were docked at the port and operations were running normally, said the witness who was at the facility.

The UN's Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC), led by Danish Lieutenant General Michael Lollesgaard, head of the UN observer team in Hodeida, drew up the redeployment plans under a pact agreed last December in Stockholm, Sweden, the first major breakthrough in peace efforts to end a war that has killed tens of thousands and pushed Yemen to the brink of starvation. "The coast guards have taken over in Saleef", he said.

Yemen's Houthi rebels announced a unilateral pullout from three key ports in Hodeidah on Saturday as part of a long stalled ceasefire agreement, but the move was quickly dismissed by the government as a sham meant to mislead the global community.

Writing on his Twitter account, Hunt tweeted: "We appear to be approaching implementation of the mutual redeployment of forces - a key step to ending this brutal war".

The war in Yemen has been at a stalemate for years, with the Saudi-UAE-led coalition and Yemeni forces unable to dislodge the Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels from the capital, Sanaa, and other urban centres.

The Yemeni government, however, accused the rebels of "staging a new ploy" by faking the withdrawal.

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The withdrawal was a "show" meant to "disinform the global community", he added. "The Yemeni cynics who criticize everything the other side does even if it is positive and who say the United Nations are naive seem to be saying the only solution is perpetual war in Yemen", Michael Aron said in a Twitter post.

The withdrawal of rebel forces will be completed by Tuesday, the head of the United Nations redeployment committee, General Michael Lollesgaard, said in a statement.

Western states, some of which supply arms and intelligence to the coalition, are pressing for an end to the conflict, and the Hodeidah ceasefire is seen as the first step towards that goal.

He added that the Houthis must commit to fully following through on the redeployment. A United Nations observer mission, led by Lollesgaard, is set to monitor and report on the Houthi redeployment.

"Among our biggest concern is ensuring sustained access to Hodeidah port", said Sultana Begum, advocacy manager in Yemen for the Norwegian Refugee Council.

The military coalition led by Riyadh intervened in March 2015 when President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into exile in Saudi Arabia after the rebels captured swathes of the country. Both sides agreed to withdraw from Hodeida, which handles 70 percent of Yemen's food imports and humanitarian aid, but remain divided over who will administer the ports after they leave.

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