Yemen's Houthis Begin Withdrawal Under UN Peace Deal



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Yemen's Houthi rebels started withdrawing Saturday from the ports of Hodeida, Salif, and Ras-Issa, under a United Nations peace deal.

Michael Lollesgaard, the chair of the U.N.'s Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC), announced Friday that the redeployment would start Saturday and conclude by Tuesday.

The head of the rebels' Supreme Revolutionary Committee said the withdrawal from the ports started at 10 a.m. local time.

Lollesgaard said the pullout amounts to a "first practical step" since the conclusion of the Hodeida Agreement, which provides for a cease-fire between the warring parties in Yemen and withdrawal of fighters from three port cities. He said the redeployment must be followed by committed, transparent and sustained actions of the parties involved to fully deliver on their obligations.

Lollesgaard added that the full implementation of the Hodeida Agreement will help ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to millions of people in Yemen who need life-saving assistance. The U.N. said it would continue to support that goal and work to return peace and stability to Yemen.

Government negotiator Sadek Dawad said he welcomed the "first step of he first phase of redeployment" of the rebel forces and urged the U.N. to monitor and verify the pullout.

The port of Hodeida is the entry point for 70 percent of the humanitarian aid and imports to Yemen, where the four-year civil war has created the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Some 60,000 people have been killed in the war that has pushed many Yemeni's to the brink of famine. Nearly 3 million people have been displaced and nearly two-thirds of them are in need of aid.