WED 29 - 1 - 2020
Jun 19, 2019
The Daily Star
Houthis to allow U.N. to inspect ships in Hodeida
ADEN, Yemen: Yemen’s Houthi movement and the United Nations have agreed on a mechanism to inspect ships docking at Hodeida following the group’s withdrawal from three Red Sea ports under a U.N.-sponsored deal, a Houthi official and a U.N. source said.
The Houthis’ unilateral pullout last month from the ports of Saleef, used for grain, the Ras Isa oil terminal and Hodeida, the main entry point for commercial and aid imports, represented the only progress in implementing the deal reached last December.
“We agreed with the U.N. on a mechanism to inspect ships docking in the ports of Hodeida and its implementation will start in the coming days,” Houthi Transport Minister Zakaria Shami was quoted as saying Tuesday by the group’s Al-Masirah TV.
A United Nations source confirmed that an agreement had been reached with U.N. inspection body, the Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen, UNVIM.
UNVIM still needs to sign a separate agreement with the Arab military coalition that monitors ships on the high seas heading to Yemen.
The agreement comes a day after the head of the U.N. food agency accused Houthi rebels of diverting food from the country’s hungriest people and threatened to suspend food aid later this week unless they immediately implemented registration and monitoring agreements.
David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program, told the U.N. Security Council that, as examples, up to 60 percent of beneficiaries at seven centers in Sanaa “confirmed they had not received any assistance” and 33 percent of respondents in the rebels’ northern stronghold of Saada received no food in April.
The Western-backed alliance intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government ousted from power in the capital Sanaa by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in late 2014.
Djibouti-based UNVIM was set up in 2015, as the Arab coalition accused the Houthis of smuggling Iranian missiles and arms through Yemeni ports under their control, including through Hodeida, a charge both the group and Tehran deny.
The Hodeida cease-fire and troop redeployment agreement was reached last year at peace talks in Sweden, as a trust-building measure to pave the way for talks to end the war, but stalled for months before the Houthi withdrawal.
Coalition leaders Saudi Arabia and the UAE have yet to verify the Houthi pullout or respond to it by pulling back pro-coalition troops that are massed on the edges of Hodeida. A U.N. official has said details of a second phase of wider redeployment need to be agreed before coalition forces move.
Tensions have escalated after the Houthis claimed responsibility for a missile strike on a Saudi civilian airport in Abha city last week and a drone attack on Saudi oil pumping stations last month. The coalition has responded with airstrikes targeting Houthi military sites in Sanaa.
The coalition said in a statement Tuesday that Saudi forces intercepted two explosives-laden rebel drones late Monday. One of the drones targeted a civilian area in Abha and the second was shot down over Yemeni air space after it was launched toward the kingdom.
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