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First UN Cease-Fire Monitors Arrive in Yemen


Dutch officer Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert, center, who heads a United Nations advance team tasked with monitoring a cease-fire that went into force in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, is greeted on arrival at Sana'a airport, Yemen, Dec. 22, 2018.

An advance U.N. truce monitoring team is on the ground in the Yemeni port of Hodeida to keep watch on the cease-fire and deal for both sides to withdraw from the city.

A U.N. spokesman said Sunday retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert, who is leading the advance team, is "encouraged by the great enthusiasm of both sides to get to work immediately."

The general is also chair of the Redeployment Coordination Committee, which includes representatives of both the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

Both sides agreed on a cease-fire and pull-out from Hodeida at talks in Sweden earlier this month. The pact took effect last week, but minor fighting on the outskirts has been reported.

Hodeida has been in rebel hands. Nearly all food and humanitarian aid for Yemen are delivered through the port and any disruption in deliveries only means more suffering for civilians.

The Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemeni forces has accused the rebels of getting Iranian-made weapons and rockets through the port - a charge Iran denies.

The rebels have fired rockets into Saudi territory.

Another round of Yemeni peace talks is set for next month and is providing some hope to the suffering civilian population.

Four years of war have compounded the misery in one of the world's poorest nations.

The U.N. says about 16 million people lack food, fresh water, and medicine. It says the country is on the edge of famine.

Saudi-led airstrikes against the Houthis have destroyed entire civilian neighborhoods and hospitals, leaving about 10,000 people dead.