WORLD Yemen's Houthi rebels agree to withdraw from Hodeidah after UN mediation

WORLD

Yemen's Houthi rebels agree to withdraw from Hodeidah after UN mediation

Xinhua

07:57, February 18, 2019

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In this Jan. 3, 2017, file photo, newly recruited Shiite fighters, known as Houthis, mobilize to fight pro-government forces, in Sanaa, Yemen. (File photo: AP)

SANAA, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Yemen's Houthi rebels on Sunday agreed to withdraw their fighters from the lifeline port city of Hodeidah under the Stockholm peace deal reached in December last year.

In a statement released by the rebel group, the Houthis said they will withdraw from the port city as the first step and facilitate access to the grain aid stored in the Red Sea Mills.

The move is based on a plan presented by Martin Griffiths, visiting UN Special Envoy to Yemen and Michael Anker Lollesgaard, head of the UN cease-fire monitor team in Hodeidah, they added.

Meanwhile, the Yemeni government also agreed to facilitate access to the mills, where 51,000 tons of wheat is stored by the World Food Programme to feed the more than 3 million needy people, according to Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television.

Griffiths has been shuttling between the Houthi rebels in Sanaa and the Yemeni exiled government in the Saudi capital Riyadh to cement the deal and avert battles in Hodeidah, the entry point of Yemen's most commercial imports and humanitarian aid.

It was Griffiths' fifth visit to Sanaa in nearly two months to break a stalemate in the key Yemeni city.

The four-year civil war in Yemen has pushed over 12 million people to the verge of famine and created what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The warring parties reached the peace deal in Stockholm in December 2018. They have largely held the cease-fire deal in Hodeidah but failed to withdraw their forces as they differed over which side should control the city after their mutual military withdrawal.

The rebels currently controls Hodeidah while the government troops have been massing on the southern and eastern outskirts of the port city.

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