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U.N. proposes monitoring of Yemen ceasefire

The Associated Press UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A proposed U.N. resolution would establish a United Nations political mission to oversee implementation of a cease-fire and the withdrawal of rival forces from Yemen’s key port of Hodeida.

The British-drafted resolution, obtained Friday by AP, would approve Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ proposal for up to 75 U.N. monitors to be deployed for an initial period of six months.

The draft resolution says the monitors would oversee the ceasefire in Hodeida and the surrounding area, demining operations at Hodeida and the smaller ports of Salif and Ras Issa, and the redeployment of forces. They would also work with Yemen’s government and Houthi Shiite rebels to assure that local forces provide security at the three ports.

Diplomats said the Security Council is expected to vote on the draft resolution next week.

The council voted unanimously Dec. 21 to authorize the deployment of U.N. monitors to observe implementation of the agreement between the government and the Houthis signed in Stockholm on Dec. 13 to monitor the ceasefire in Hodeida and the surrounding area and the pullout of rival forces. But that was only for 30 days, so a new resolution is needed to extend the deployment and establish a more permanent U.N. operation.

The ceasefire, which went into effect Dec. 18, has halted months of heavy fighting in Hodeida, whose port handles 70 percent of the food and humanitarian aid imported into Yemen.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday that there are currently about 20 monitors in Yemen, stressing that their deployment also hinges on the security situation, which he called “fairly delicate, to say the least.”

While the cease-fire and withdrawal of forces are limited, the Stockholm agreement, if fully implemented, could offer a potential breakthrough in Yemen’s four-year civil war that has brought the Arab world’s poorest country to the brink of starvation and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Martin Griffiths, the U.N. envoy for Yemen, told the Security Council on Wednesday that progress so far has been “gradual and tentative” and new talks between the warring sides won’t take place until there is “substantive progress.”

Griffiths had said there would be a new round of talks in January, but diplomats said he is now looking to February.

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