Ex-Danish general could head Yemen observer mission

UN envoy urges Yemen's warring sides to withdraw from Hodeidah

UN envoy urges Yemen's warring sides to withdraw from Hodeidah

The UN envoy for Yemen has urged warring parties to withdraw their troops from the port of Hodeidah quickly, as worldwide aid agencies say that conditions for thousands of starving people are deteriorating fast.

Martin Griffiths tweeted on Monday that the timelines set for the withdrawal of Houthi fighters and Saudi-backed militants loyal to the ex-Yemeni government from Hudaydah had slipped.

Yemen was plunged into civil war in 2014 when the rebels captured the capital, Sanaa.

He acknowledged that "we have seen the timelines for implementation extended, both in Hudaydah, and the prisoner exchange agreement". "Yet such changes in timelines are expected, in light of the facts that the timelines were rather ambitious and we are dealing with a complex situation on the ground".

Martin Griffiths was in the Red Sea port city "for a few hours" to oversee the truce deal's implementation and "follow up on preparations" for a new monitoring mission, the United Nations official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Former Danish general Michael Lollesgaard has been tapped to replace Cammaert, the diplomats said.

"All the speculations about other reasons for General Patrick's departure are not accurate".

Cammaert arrived Saturday in Yemen.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres proposed that former Danish General Michael Lollesgaard replace the current head of the mission, retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert, in the port city of Hodeidah.

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Lollesgaard's candidacy has now been proposed to the UN Security Council, which has 48 hours to accept or refuse, one source told AFP.

Meanwhile, Ansarullah leader Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi sat down with Griffiths in the capital Sana'a on Monday.

The Huthi chief affirmed that he remains committed to the deal struck in Sweden and accused the government of "putting obstacles in the way of its implementation", said rebel official Mohammed Abdelsalam.

Hodeida was for months the main front line in the Yemen war after government forces supported by Saudi Arabia and its allies launched an offensive to capture it in June.

Under the peace deal, the withdrawal from the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa, as well as critical parts of the city associated with humanitarian facilities should be completed within two weeks after the cease-fire enters into force, while the full withdrawal should be completed within a maximum period of 21 days.

"Mr. Griffiths has emphasized to the parties that the U.N.is committed to staying the course to help the parties implement the Stockholm agreement fully and rapidly", Dujarric said. The U.N. said an attack earlier this month near the same camp killed six children and two women.

Agreements reached in December between the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement and the Saudi-backed government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi were the first significant breakthrough in four years of conflict which have killed tens of thousands of people through military actions or other causes.

Human rights groups say the real death toll could be five times as high.

His comments came shortly after aid agencies, meeting in London, said Yemenis were still struggling to feed their children in what had become the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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