U.N. convenes warring sides in Yemen's Hodeida

FOR PEACE. Retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert (C), who heads a United Nations team tasked with monitoring a ceasefire between the Iranian-aligned Houthi group and Saudi-backed government forces in Yemen's Hodeidah, meets officials during his visit. Photo by SRT/AFP

FOR PEACE. Retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert (C), who heads a United Nations team tasked with monitoring a ceasefire between the Iranian-aligned Houthi group and Saudi-backed government forces in Yemen's Hodeidah, meets officials during his visit.

Photo by SRT/AFP

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A UN-led truce monitoring team including members of Yemen's warring sides held its first meeting in the flashpoint city of Hodeida on Wednesday, December 26, a pro-government official told AFP, Agence France-Presse.

"We are expecting a good outcome," said the official, who requested anonymity.

The ceasefire in the rebel-held city, whose Red Sea port is vital for millions at risk of starvation, is part of a peace push seen as the best chance yet of ending 4 years of devastating conflict.

Retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert is heading the joint committee including Saudi-backed government officials and Iran-aligned Huthi rebels to oversee the truce.

Loyalist members of the committee were transported to the meeting from east of the city in UN vehicles, a Yemeni government official told Agence France-Presse on condition anonymity. 

Sporadic clashes on Wednesday morning underscored the fragility of the truce that began last week, as both sides accused each other of violating the ceasefire. 

The war between the Shiite Huthi rebels and troops loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi escalated in 2015, when he fled into Saudi exile and the Saudi-led military coalition intervened.

Since then, the war has killed some 10,000 people, according to the World Health Organization, although human rights groups say the real death toll could be five times as high.

The conflict has unleashed a major humanitarian crisis and pushed 14 million Yemenis to the brink of famine– Rappler.com