Retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert led a U.N. monitoring team who arrived in Yemen to see to the implementation of the ceasefire.
The head of a United Nations advance team tasked with monitoring a ceasefire between the Houthi rebels and Saudi-backed government forces in Yemen's Hodeidah has arrived in Yemen, U.N. and local officials said Saturday.
The sides in Yemen's nearly four-year war agreed during U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Sweden earlier this month to stop fighting in Hodeidah city and its province and withdraw forces. The truce began Tuesday but skirmishes continued on the outskirts of the city.
On Friday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved the deployment — for an initial 30 days — of an advance monitoring team led by retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert.
Upon arriving at the Aden airport, Cammaert met with officials from the Saudi-backed government, local officials said, and he is expected to continue to Sanaa where he will meet Houthi officials.
He will then travel to Hodeidah where he will oversee the truce and troop withdrawal from Hodeidah city and three ports. Cammaert's team will not be uniformed or armed, the U.N has said, but it will provide support for the management and inspections of the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa; and strengthen the U.N. 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 the nearly 16 million people suffering from severe hunger.
Sweden's agreement, the first significant breakthrough in peace efforts in five years, is meant to pave the way for a wider ceasefire in the impoverished country and a second round of talks in January to agree to a framework for political negotiations.
However Houthi negotiator Mohammed Abdelsalam criticized the U.N. resolution, which authorized the deployment of monitoring team, for failing to condemn the "crimes of the aggressors."
An Arab alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates started the war in Yemen in 2015 against the Houthis who ousted the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi from the capital city Sanaa. The war killed more than 50,000 people and pushed the citizens to the brink of famine.
The Houthis who have popular support of Yemenis, control most urban centers, including Sanaa, while Hadi’s government is based in the southern port of Aden.