UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council unanimously authorized Wednesday the deployment of up to 75 monitors to Yemen's port city of Hodeida as part of efforts to maintain a critical cease-fire there.
The resolution provides for the creation of a special political mission for an initial period of six months. It will be known as the U.N. Mission to Support the Hodeida Agreement (UNMHA) and will join an advance team headed by Dutch Major General Patrick Cammaert, which deployed to the city late last month.
"Hopefully with the deployment of this substantive mission, we can start to make progress on the ground," said British Ambassador Karen Pierce, whose delegation drafted the resolution.
Last month, delegations representing the government of President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and Houthi rebels met under U.N. auspices near Stockholm for a first round of talks aimed at ending the nearly four-year-long conflict. Parties agreed to the localized truce in Hodeida, as well as redeployment of fighters to agreed locations outside the city. Agreements were also reached on the exchange of thousands of prisoners and for easing the situation in the southwest city of Taiz.
Wednesday's resolution authorizes the monitors to deploy quickly and oversee the cease-fire not just in Hodeida city, but throughout the governorate, as well as verifying the parties' compliance to redeploy their forces. UNMHA is also tasked with working with the parties so that the security of Hodeida and its ports are guaranteed by local security forces.
Yemen's U.N. envoy, Abdallah Ali Fadel al-Saadi, welcomed the resolution and reiterated the Hadi government's commitment to the agreements made in Stockholm. But he criticized the rebel Houthi group, accusing it of having violated the cease-fire agreement 573 times since it went into force on December 18, causing deaths and injuries.
"We call on the Security Council to bring pressure to bear on these militias to implement Security Council resolutions on Yemen," the envoy said.
The cease-fire in Hodeida is an important first step to restoring peace across the war-torn country. More than 24 million people — 80 percent of the population — are in need of humanitarian assistance and of those, some 10 million are on the brink of famine. In addition to a food crisis, the country's economy has collapsed.
A Saudi Arabian-led coalition began bombing Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels in support of Yemen's government in March 2015. Since then, the U.N. estimates more than 10,000 people have been killed, mostly due to coalition airstrikes.