Yemen's Hodeida calm after ceasefire takes effect

Yemen's Hodeida calm after ceasefire takes effect
2 min read
18 December, 2018
Calm blanketed Yemen's embattled Hodeida city, just hours after clashes in the early hours of Tuesday.
The ceasefire took effect on Tuesday [Getty]
Residents in Hodeida confirmed there has no fighting between the government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels since around 3am, just hours after a UN-backed ceasefire was implemented.

It came after a pro-government official said sporadic clashes in the east of the Red Sea city - whose port serves as a crucial gateway for humanitarian aid - were ongoing despite a truce deal that was to be implemented at midnight local time.

Hodeida residents 'hopeful'

UN envoy Martin Griffiths said on Sunday that the UN was working with both sides to ensure the ceasefire accord was "implemented timely and properly".

The truce is supposed to be followed by the withdrawal of fighters from Hodeida.

The two sides also agreed to meet again in late January for more talks to define the framework for negotiations on a comprehensive peace settlement.

The coalition official told AFP Monday that the agreement stipulated the rebels should withdraw from all ports in Hodeida by midnight on December 31 and that both pro-government forces and Houthis pull out of the city completely by midnight on January 7.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned on Sunday that "much worse" lay in store for Yemen in 2019 unless the peace deal is implemented.

A high number of Yemenis have been dying in "very dramatic circumstances" as a result of food shortages, he added.

"The fact that famine was not yet declared does not in any way diminish our huge concern with a very high level of hunger that exists in Yemen" and "people dying in very dramatic circumstances", said Guterres.

"Without peace, we will be facing in 2019 a much worse situation than today."

Western governments have pressed for an end to the war, which massively escalated when the Saudi-led alliance intervened in 2015 to restore the government of Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi after Houthis overran the capital.

The Sweden talks mark 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.

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