UN ceasefire monitoring team arrives in Yemen's Hodeidah
A UN monitoring team led by a Dutch officer arrived in Yemen's port city of Hodeidah on Sunday, according to security officials and witnesses.
The team will observe the Red Sea city's fragile ceasefire, following months of battles for control of the city between Houthi rebels and Saudi-backed government forces.
The team, led by Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert, had earlier flown into Sanaa, Yemen's capital, from Aden, the home-in-exile of Yemen's internationally-recognised government.
The witnesses and officials said the convoy of the UN team arrived in Hodeidah amid heavy security provided by the Iran-aligned rebels. Both Hodeidah and Sanaa are under rebel control.
Officials said that a security team traveled to Hodeidah ahead of the monitoring team's arrival to secure houses and set up an operations centre.
Cammaert's first task in Hodeidah will be to assess the military and security situation on the ground and estimate the number of monitors that will be required in the near future, said the officials.
A major security concern, they said, was the protection of the monitors from extreme Islamist militants known to reside in the city.
The arrival of the team in Hodeidah follows charges by both sides over the past week that the other was breaching the truce, reached in peace talks held in Sweden earlier this month.
In addition to the ceasefire, the agreement provides for the transfer of control of Hodeidah's ports from the rebels, who are known as Houthis, to local administrators and security personnel.
Some 70 percent of Yemen's imports come through Hodeidah, and the Sweden deal is designed in part to facilitate the arrival of relief supplies to push Yemen back from the brink of famine.
Yemen's four-year conflict has seen tens of thousands of people killed, while millions of others have been driven to hunger. The UN calls Yemen's crisis the world's worst humanitarian disaster.