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  • The UN-brokered deal does not specify how Houthi rebel forces should vacate the city.

    The UN-brokered deal does not specify how Houthi rebel forces should vacate the city. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 January 2019

An aid agency said that the UN-brokered deal between rebels and the Saudi-backed government lacks clarity hence increasing disagreements between two groups.

According to the British aid agency Oxfam, the United Nations-brokered peace deal in Yemen’s port city Hodeidah is already unraveling due to the vagueness of the text.

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Yemen: Houthis Retreat from Hodeidah Adhering to UN Peace Deal

A major problem with the peace deal, Oxfam said, is that text does not specify the manner in which the Houthi rebel forces should vacate the city.

"There is an issue with the actual agreement, which is actually quite vague," Dina el-Mamoun, the aid group's head of policy and advocacy in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, told Al Jazeera.

"The UN should have made clear these basic issues that go to the heart of the agreement: who needs to hand over what and to whom."

According to the deal, the Houthis are expected to hand over control of the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef, and Ras Isa, to "local security forces in accordance with Yemeni law".

But disagreements regarding the meaning of the text aroused. The Saudi-backed government said that the control of the ports should be in the hands of officials who were running the facility before the war started in 2014.

However, Houthis say that the text means the current officials who are their allies.  

"How can the UN expect a vague agreement to translate, in reality, to what is intended without making it clear?" asked Mamoun. "An agreement that leads us to a state of confusion over what was agreed is not what we needed."

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq did not directly answer Oxfam's criticism but did confirm that the two parties did not agree despite a "collective recognition of the urgency" of ending hostilities.

"Despite both parties consenting to the Stockholm Agreement, there is still a lack of common interpretation of the implementation and sequencing of the Hodaidah agreement," Haq told Al Jazeera.

"This is of course driven by the lack of trust among the parties and their apprehension with respect to making operational concessions, outside of a comprehensive political solution to the conflict in Yemen."

According to the Stockholm Agreement, both parties agreed to open humanitarian corridors to allow for the transport of resources necessary to help avoid the a conflict-induced famine caused by cutting off the supply lines out of the port city through which 70 percent of Yemen’s imports flow.

The main corridor in question also connects the port city of Hodeidah with the Houthi held capital of Sanaa.

The head of the United Nation’s monitoring team, retired General Patrick Cammaert expressed his disappointment on the matter to the Houthi rebels. The U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated this stance.

The Yemeni war started in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and 12 of its regional allies formed a coalition to restore the pro-Saudi government to power after the Houthi movement took over the capital Sanaa. Saudi Arabia and its allies, who have received logistic and intelligence support for their intervention in Yemen, have been accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity over intentionally targeting civilians as well as allegations of torture.

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