UN proposes safe passages in al-Hodeidah
By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden
The new head of the UN observer mission in Yemen Gen. Michael Lollesgaard proposed on Saturday (February 9th) a new redeployment plan in al-Hodeidah that would create safe corridors for humanitarian aid.
The new proposal aims at implementing the Stockholm agreement and a mechanism for redeployment that allows for safe passages in al-Hodeidah and isolated areas under the auspices of international forces.
The Stockholm agreement, signed December 13th between the Yemeni government and the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah), called for the removal of all military manifestations from al-Hodeidah and a mutual redeployment of forces from the city and the ports of Salif and Ras Issa, to agreed upon locations.
Lollesgaard submitted the proposal during a meeting on Saturday in the provisional capital of Aden with Yemen’s Chief of Joint Staffs Lt. Gen. Abdullah al-Nakhei, local media reported.
Al-Nakhei said Yemeni forces are prepared to carry out safe deployment in al-Hodeidah and its ports in accordance with the Stockholm agreement.
He stressed that priorities must be set and that the proposal must be implemented within a certain timeframe, "given that any failure of the Stockholm agreement would be a failure of the entire political process in the country".
Meanwhile, Yemeni army spokesman Brig. Gen. Abdo Abdullah Majali affirmed on Saturday that the army is committed to the truce in al-Hodeidah.
However, the army "is on high alert and prepared for a military resolution in al-Hodeidah in case the current negotiations fail and the militias do not accept a peaceful resolution [to the conflict]", he said.
'Committed to peace process'
Lollesgaard’s recent efforts come after the former chief of the UN monitoring team, Dutch General Patrick Cammaert, reached a deadlock with the Houthis who refused to withdraw from al-Hodeidah as per the agreement.
The Iran-backed Houthis are dragging out the process in order to avoid reaching any results on the ground, journalist Rashad al-Sharaabi told Al-Mashareq.
At the same time, they are setting up bridges and trenches and reinforcing their ranks with weapons and fighters, he said.
The national army and legitimate government are committed to the peace process, and "their hands are extended for peace" despite the fact that the Houthis keep violating UN Resolution 2216, he said.
The UN resolution calls on all parties to immediately and unconditionally end violence. It calls for the Houthis to withdraw from all areas seized during the current conflict, relinquish arms seized from military and security institutions, and cease all actions falling within the authority of the legitimate government.
Yemen food aid at risk of rotting: UN
On Monday, the UN warned that food aid in a warehouse in al-Hodeidah is at risk of rotting, leaving millions of Yemenis without access to life-saving sustenance.
The Red Sea Mills silos are believed to contain enough grain to feed several million people for a month. But the granary has remained off-limits to aid organisations for months.
"The World Food Programme (WFP) grain stored in the mills -- enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month -- has been inaccessible for over five months and is at risk of rotting," read a joint statement by the UN aid chief and special envoy for Yemen.
"We emphasise that ensuring access to the mills is a shared responsibility among the parties to the conflict in Yemen," it said.
UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths and UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said Monday the Houthis had made "efforts to re-open the road leading to the mills" in the joint statement.
Griffiths arrived in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Monday to hold talks with the Houthis.