UN Yemen Envoy Says Redeployment in Hodeida Slow But Sure

March 28: The U.N. envoy to Yemen said Thursday the redeployment of rival factions in the key port city of Hodeida is “slow” but will happen.

A cease-fire agreed on in December in Sweden by the rival parties is holding, Martin Griffiths told The Associated Press. The city has been the focus of months of U.N.-brokered talks with the government.

“As I’ve been reminded recently there are 50 percent fewer civilian casualties in Hodeida since the cease-fire came into account than in the previous three months,” Griffiths said. “So that’s quite a change and that’s good for the people of Hodeida, but we need to go further. We need to quickly see those redeployments happening.”

Griffiths said the two sides are meeting daily to finalize details of the first redeployment from the Hodeida port and two smaller ports. That will be followed by a second phase in which heavy weapons and ground forces will be removed from the city, he said.

Griffiths said if the first phase is successful, the ensuing demilitarization phase will be much easier. “Yes, it’s slow, we shouldn’t be surprised, but we need to keep the pressure up.”

Griffiths told the Security Council last month that he is “optimistic” the cease-fire will hold and the redeployments will take place.

Hodeida is the main entry point for aid to Yemen, where nearly four years of war has spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The war in Yemen started in 2014 when Houthi rebels swept the northern part of the country and forced the internationally recognized government to flee the country before seeking military intervention by the Saudi-led coalition.

Griffiths warned that the alternative to peace is “unthinkable” humanitarian disasters.

“It is the possibility of famine, the increasing cholera that we are now seeing, and a massive humanitarian aid program which barely keeps pace with the growing needs of the Yemeni people,” he said. “We can’t allow that to replace peace in Yemen.”

Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with nearly two thirds of its people in need of some sort of aid and 3 million displaced. Thousands have died of malnutrition, preventable diseases and epidemics.

Source: Associated Press via Star Tribune

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