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UN monitoring rebel withdrawal from Yemen's Hodeida

AP  |  Cairo 

The U.N. said Sunday it is monitoring the redeployment of rebel forces from three key ports in after the government dismissed the withdrawal as a "farce."

The rebels, known as Houthis, said Saturday they began the long-delayed redeployment of their forces from the key port of Hodeida, as well as the two smaller ports of Salif and Ras Issa, as part of a cease-fire reached in December.

The long-delayed redeployment is seen as a key first step toward ending the civil war, which erupted in 2014 when the Houthis seized the capital,

A Saudi-led coalition joined the war the following year on the side of the government. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and the war has generated the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Michael Lollesgaard, the of a U.N. mission overseeing the cease-fire, said U.N. teams watched as "the military forces left the ports and the took over responsibility for security."

He said the first day of the redeployment of Houthi forces went "in accordance with established plans." Activities in the following days are expected to focus on "removal of military manifestations and demining." The monitors will verify the rebels' withdrawal on Tuesday, he said in a statement.

The government has dismissed the Houthi withdrawal, with accusing the rebels of handing the ports off to "militia leaders in civilian clothes."

Both sides agreed in December to withdraw from Hodeida, which handles 70 per cent of Yemen's and humanitarian aid. But the U.N.-brokered deal was vague on who would control Hodeida's strategic ports after the withdrawal, saying only that a "local force" would take over.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, May 12 2019. 20:16 IST