UN says Houthi pullout from key Yemen ports on track

The UN said Sunday (May 12th) that a withdrawal of the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) from key Red Sea ports was proceeding as planned, after the government accused the group of faking the pullout, AFP reported.

The port of al-Hodeidah serves as a lifeline for millions in Yemen, which has been pushed to the brink of famine by more than four years of war.

Yemen's government had accused the Houthis on Sunday of a "policy of deception" after they announced the withdrawal in a long-delayed move agreed under a ceasefire deal last year.

But the UN, which said it had teams monitoring al-Hodeidah, Saleef and Ras Issa ports, later reported that the pullout had gone "in accordance with established plans".

It said the coastguard had taken over responsibility for security at the three sites after a Houthi withdrawal that had begun Saturday.

The pullback is part of a truce agreement for al-Hodeidah brokered by the UN between Yemen's government and the Houthis in December in Sweden.

Experts said it was too soon to say if the withdrawal represented genuine progress.

The UN Security Council is due to hear a briefing on al-Hodeidah on Wednesday -- a day after the withdrawal is expected to be completed.

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