Ye­men rebels boy­cott meet­ing with truce mon­i­tors

Times of Oman - - OMAN/WORLD -

SANAA: Ye­meni rebels on Sun­day boy­cotted a meet­ing chaired by the head of a UN-led cease­fire mon­i­tor­ing team in the flash­point city of Hodeida, ac­cus­ing him of pur­su­ing “other agen­das”.

Re­tired Dutch gen­eral Patrick Cam­maert is lead­ing a joint com­mit­tee, which in­cludes both gov­ern­ment and rebel rep­re­sen­ta­tives, tasked with over­see­ing a truce in the Red Sea port city and the with­drawal of both par­ties.

Houthi rebel ne­go­tia­tor Mo­hammed Ab­del­salam said Cam­maert “steered from the course of the agree­ment by im­ple­ment­ing other agen­das”.

“If (UN en­voy to Ye­men Martin) Grif­fiths does not ad­dress the is­sue, it is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult to dis­cuss any other mat­ter,” he said on Twit­ter with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

An AFP pho­tog­ra­pher said that the Houthi rep­re­sen­ta­tives did not take part in the com­mit­tee meet­ing in Hodeida on Sun­day. The UN de­clined to com­ment. Clashes erupted be­tween Houthi rebels and gov­ern­ment forces in Hodeida on Satur­day, deal­ing a new blow to the frag­ile truce. The rebel-held port city, which is a life­line for the de­liv­ery of des­per­ately needed hu­man­i­tar­ian aid, was for months the main front line in the Ye­meni con­flict after gov­ern­ment forces sup­ported by Saudi Ara­bia and its al­lies launched an of­fen­sive to cap­ture it in June.

But last month the war­ring par­ties agreed a cease­fire for Hodeida dur­ing UN-spon­sored talks in Swe­den.

The United Na­tions has said the truce has largely held since it came into force on De­cem­ber 18 but there have been de­lays in the agreed pull­back of rebel and gov­ern­ment forces.

The Houthis con­trol most of Hodeida while gov­ern­ment forces are de­ployed on the south­ern and east­ern out­skirts.

Since the Saudi-led mil­i­tary coali­tion in­ter­vened in sup­port of the gov­ern­ment in March 2015, the con­flict has killed nearly 10,000 peo­ple and un­leashed the world’s worst hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis, ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions.

UN aid of­fi­cials say 80 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion — 24 mil­lion peo­ple — are in need of aid and nearly 10 mil­lion are just one step away from famine.

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