UN envoy in Yemen for talks on Hodeida truce

UN envoy in Yemen for talks on Hodeida truce
A UN envoy arrived in Sanaa for talks on the implementation of the Hodeida truce.
2 min read
22 January, 2019
Rebel-held Hodeida was for months the main front line in the Yemen war (Getty)

The UN envoy for Yemen landed in rebel-held Sanaa Monday for talks aimed at shoring up a truce between rebels and a government alliance in the port city of Hodeida.

Diplomat Martin Griffiths landed in the capital at around 10:30 am local time (1330 GMT), an official at Sanaa airport told AFP on condition of anonymity. 

A UN source confirmed the news, saying Griffiths was in Yemen to "work on the rapid implementation of the Hodeida agreement". 

Griffiths hosted hard-won peace talks between Yemen's government, allied with a powerful Saudi-led regional military coalition, and Iran-backed Huthi rebels in Sweden last month. 

Monday's visit marks Griffiths' second trip to Yemen this month. 

Yemen's government coalition and rebels agreed to a ceasefire in Hodeida, the Red Sea city seized by the Huthis in 2014 and home to impoverished Yemen's most valuable port. 

The Hodeida agreement stipulates the withdrawal and redeployment of rival forces from the city, two clauses that have yet to be fulfilled.

Griffiths was working to convene a "face-to-face" meeting in Hodeida of the committee tasked with overseeing the deal, said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The UN envoy is expected to travel to Riyadh in the coming days.

Rebel-held Hodeida was for months the main front line in the Yemen war after government forces supported by Saudi Arabia and its allies launched an offensive to capture it in June.  

But a precarious calm has largely held in the city since a ceasefire agreement came into force on December 18. 

The UN said a team tasked with monitoring the truce, led by chief monitor Patrick Cammaert, came under fire in Hodeida on Friday but was unharmed. 

The UN did not identify who was behind the shooting. 

Separately on Monday, two armed men believed to be members of Al-Qaeda were killed in a drone strike while driving a car in the central province of Maarib, according to a local security official who said the aircraft was American.

That strike came hours after a civilian was killed in a similar attack in Al-Baida province to the south. 

A different local security official said the man was the father of an Al-Qaeda member and had been driving his son's car alone.

The Yemen conflict has killed some 10,000 people since a Saudi-led military coalition intervened in support of the beleaguered government in March 2015, according to the World Health Organization.

Human rights groups say the real death toll could be five times as high.

The war has pushed 14 million Yemenis to the brink of famine in what the United Nations describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.