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UN demands immediate pullback of forces from Yemen ports

Published: Updated:

The UN Security Council on Friday called on all parties in Yemen to immediately implement a deal to pull their forces out of three key ports and a key grain depot.

In a unanimous declaration, the 15-member council welcomed the recent UN-sponsored agreement between Houthi rebels and the Arab Coalition fighting them.

They called for “the immediate implementation” of the first step of the deal, which includes the various factions pulling their fighters first back from the ports of Salif and Ras Issa and then from the port city of Hodeidah.

Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy in Yemen, told Al Arabiya in an exclusive interview on Thursday that he hoped the redeployment of forces would happen as early as Friday or Saturday.

On Thursday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres held a meeting on the issue in New York with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Under the agreement struck in Sweden on February 17, fighters would redeploy outside the ports and away from areas that are key to the humanitarian relief effort in Yemen, devastated by famine and outbreaks of disease after years of conflict.

The ports are in the Houthi-held west of the country.

The agreement also sets out free access to the grain warehouses at Red Sea Mills, under control of the Yemeni government forces.

The UN has not had access to the grain depots since September and estimates that the stockpiles there could be enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month.

The Security Council members also “expressed concern at continued reports of violations of the ceasefire” which has been in place since December.

“They called on the parties to seize this opportunity to move towards sustainable peace by exercising restraint, de-escalating tensions, honoring their commitment to the Stockholm Agreement and moving forward with its swift implementation.”

With Agencies