Hodeidah pullout going as planned, says UN

Yemen's Houthis offer unilateral withdrawal from key ports in coming days - UN

The port of Hodeida is the entry point for 70 percent of the humanitarian aid and imports to Yemen, where the four-year civil war has created the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The UN "welcomes the offer and intention of the Ansar Allah to undertake an initial unilateral redeployment from the ports of Al-Hudaydah, Salif and Ras-Issa", said Michael Lollesgaard, chair of the UN's Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC), which oversees some of the peace talks between the warring parties in Yemen.

Under the original terms of the deal, worldwide monitors were to be deployed in Hodeidah and all armed forces were to have pulled back completely within 21 days of the start of the ceasefire.

The RCC committee, led by Danish Lieutenant General Michael Lollesgaard, head of the United Nations observer team in Hodeidah, drew up the redeployment plans under a pact agreed last December in Stockholm, Sweden, the first major breakthrough in peace efforts to end a war that has killed tens of thousands and pushed Yemen to the brink of starvation.

The pullout was scheduled to take place two weeks after the cease-fire went into force on December 18.

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Under the redeployment pledge, Huthi militants said they also would move out of Yemen's main Red Sea port of Hodeidah by the end of the day on May 14.

"It's an attempt to misinform the worldwide community ahead of a meeting of the UN Security Council" on Yemen, he said.

The monitors will verify the rebels' withdrawal on Tuesday, he said in a statement.

Yemen's Houthi movement forces ride in the back of vehicle during withdrawal from Saleef port in Hodeidah province, Yemen May 11, 2019.

"This is totally rejected by us, and the agreement must be implemented in full, especially with regards to the identity of the troops that will take over from the Huthis", he added.

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It was not clear if Griffiths had secured agreement between the two sides over the main sticking point regarding which local authorities would control the ports and city under United Nations supervision after both sides withdraw. But they've yet to announce a withdrawal.

Pro-government forces have twice tried to seize the port, and accuse the Houthis of using it to smuggle in weapons from Iran.

A United Nations source told Reuters on Saturday that the RCC would announce its assessment of the Houthi redeployment next week.

The Houthis began the long-delayed pull out of their forces from the key port of Hudaydah, as well as the two smaller ports of Saleef and Ras Isa, on Saturday as part of a ceasefire deal reached in Sweden in December. Coalition forces, now massed 4km from Hodeidah port on the edges of the city, are to retreat 1km from two flashpoint districts.

The coalition led by Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen in 2015 after the Houthis ousted the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

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