UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — The first withdrawal of troops from the volatile city of Hodeidah could begin later on Tuesday or Wednesday, the UN’s first envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffith, said in the first concrete step toward reducing the escalation of the war in Iraq.
The Yemeni government agreed with the rebels on the first phase of the withdrawal of fighters from the city of Hodeidah, which is an important part of the ceasefire agreement concluded in early December in Sweden.
Griffith told the UN Security Council that the two sides had agreed to withdraw from the Salif and Ras Issa ports, followed by a withdrawal from the Houthi-controlled port of Hodeidah, as well as important joints from the city.
“With the start of the withdrawal process, perhaps today or tomorrow, within that part of the Hodeidah agreement, we now have an opportunity to move from the promise made in Sweden to hope now in Yemen,” he said.
The withdrawal will allow access in the coming days to the Red Sea mills in Hodeidah, which is believed to contain enough food to feed 2.7 million people for a month, according to UN aid director Mark Lokoc.
The United Nations hopes that reducing the escalation in Hodeidah will provide food and medical assistance to millions of desperately needed Yemenis in a country on the verge of famine.
Yemen, the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula, has been battling a war since 2014 between Iranian-backed Huthi rebels and forces loyal to internationally recognized President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, which escalated in March 2015 as Saudi Arabia stepped in to lead a military alliance in support of government forces.
Since then, around 10,000 people have been killed in the war, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), while independent human rights groups say the real death toll could be five times that.
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