Yemeni Minister of Transport Zakaria al-Shami says the Houthi Ansarullah movement and the United Nations have agreed on a mechanism to inspect ships docking at ports in the country’s strategic western province of Hudaydah following Houthis’ withdrawal from three of Yemen's Red Sea ports last month as part of a peace agreement.
“We agreed with the UN on a mechanism to inspect ships docking in the ports of Hudaydah and its implementation will start in the coming days,” Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network quoted Shami as saying at a meeting of the Red Sea Ports Corporation on Tuesday.
He then called on the Saudi-led military coalition, which is engaged in a military campaign on Yemen and monitors ships on the high seas heading to the Arab country, to fulfill its obligations under the Stockholm deal struck last December in Sweden.
Under the deal, representatives from the Houthis and Yemen's ex-president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi agreed to withdraw their troops from Hudaydah's main port and two other nearby ports, as well as Hudaydah city and allow deployment of UN monitors.
Meanwhile, an unnamed United Nations source confirmed that an agreement had been reached with UN inspection body – the Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen (UNVIM).
UNVIM still needs to sign a separate agreement with the Saudi-led alliance.
Last month, Ansarullah fighters unilaterally pulled out of the ports of Saleef, used for grain, Ras Isa oil terminal and Hudaydah, under the first phase of the Stockholm peace deal.
Under the first phase, the Houthis were expected to pull back five kilometers from the three ports, while Saudi-backed pro-Hadi forces were required to be stationed four kilometers from Hudaydah.
A second phase of withdrawal is scheduled to follow in which both sides pull their troops 18 kilometers outside of Hudaydah and heavy weapons 30 kilometers away.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of Hadi back to power and crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement.
The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the Saudi-led war has claimed the lives of over 60,000 Yemenis since January 2016.
The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.