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UN-led monitors meet in Yemen's Hodeida as clashes test truce

Retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert is heading the joint committee [AFP]

Date of publication: 26 December, 2018

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A pro-government official confirmed a meeting took place between Yemen's warring factions and the UN-led truce monitoring team visiting Hodeida.
A UN-led truce monitoring team including members of Yemen's warring sides held its first meeting in the flashpoint city of Hodeida on Wednesday, a pro-government official told AFP.

"We are expecting a good outcome," said the official, who requested anonymity.

The ceasefire in the rebel-held city, whose Red Sea port is vital for millions at risk of starvation, is part of a peace push seen as the best chance yet of ending four years of devastating conflict.

Retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert is heading the joint committee, including Saudi-backed government officials and Houthi rebels, to oversee the truce.

Loyalist members of the committee were transported to the meeting from east of the city in UN vehicles, a Yemeni government official told AFP on condition anonymity. 

Sporadic clashes on Wednesday morning underscored the fragility of the truce that began last week, as both sides accused each other of violating the ceasefire. 

The truce in Hodeida and its surroundings went into effect on December 18 but has remained shaky, with the two sides accusing each other of violations. 

On Tuesday, an official for the Saudi-led alliance said that 10 pro-government troops have been killed since the ceasefire went into force, accusing the Houthis of 183 violations. 

The rebels, in turn, said on the same day that they have recorded at least 31 violations in the past 24 hours by pro-government troops. 

Yemen's warring sides agreed on the ceasefire to halt a devastating offensive by government forces and the coalition against rebel-held Hodeida at peace talks in Sweden this month.

The UN monitoring team aims to secure the functioning of the lifeline port of Hodeida and supervise the withdrawal of fighters from the city.

The war between the Houthi rebels and troops loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi escalated in 2015, when he fled into Saudi exile and the Saudi-led military coalition intervened.

The Sweden talks marked the first attempt in two years to broker an end to the Yemen conflict, which has killed more than 10,000 people - though rights groups say the actual figure is five times higher.

Some 14 million people are at imminent risk of starvation in Yemen, according to UN estimates.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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