Yemeni rebels say UN resolution 'important step'

Dubai (AFP) –


Yemeni rebels have welcomed a UN Security Council resolution authorising the deployment of ceasefire monitors to the flashpoint port city of Hodeida, calling it an "important step".

Yemen's Saudi-backed government meanwhile renewed its commitment to respect a hard-won truce accord reached at peace talks in Sweden earlier this month.

The UN resolution, approved unanimously on Friday, endorsed the results of those negotiations which included an agreement to withdraw fighters in Hodeida, a major gateway for aid and food imports.

It authorises the United Nations to "establish and deploy, for an initial period of 30 days from the adoption of this resolution, an advance team to begin monitoring" the ceasefire, under the leadership of retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert.

The resolution "insists on the full respect by all parties of the ceasefire agreed" for Hodeida which took effect on Tuesday but remains fragile.

"This is an important step towards stopping the aggression and lifting the blockade," rebel negotiator Mohammed Abdelsalam said late Friday.

He was referring to a military campaign launched in 2015 by a Saudi-led coalition fighting on the side of the government and a blockade of Yemen's sea and air ports.

Quoted by the rebel-run Al-Masirah TV, Abdelsalam criticised the resolution for not condemning the "crimes of the aggressors".

Yemen's four-year-old war escalated in 2015, when the coalition intervened after the Huthis drove President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's government from Sanaa.

The conflict has killed around 10,000 people since then, according to the World Health Organization, although human rights groups say the real death toll could be five times as high.

Hadi's government reaffirmed its "commitment (to respect) the agreement" struck in Sweden and endorsed by the UN resolution, in a statement released late Friday.

It pledged to work "in a positive spirit" with UN envoy Martin Griffiths towards a lasting political agreement to end a conflict that has unleashed a major humanitarian crisis.

Cammaert -- who served multiple times as a UN peacekeeper -- arrived in Aden in southern Yemen where the government is based on Saturday with a team of monitors, an AFP journalist said.

Later he was expected to head to the rebel-held capital Sanaa and Hodeida.