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GCC urges UN envoy to pressure Houthis to exit Hudaydah

Supporters of Yemen's Huthi rebels raise Kalashnikov assault rifles chant slogans against the Saudi-led coalition air strike that targeted a bus carrying school children in August, during a rally in the Huthi stronghold of Saada on September 5, 2018. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP / Getty Images)
Supporters of the Houthis in Yemen on 5 September 2018 [Stinger/AFP/Getty Images]

The Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has called on UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths to play a "more active" role in persuading Houthi rebels to withdraw from Yemen's strategic port city of Al-Hudaydah, Anadolu Agency reports.

The council chief Abdel-Latif al-Zayani met Griffiths on Tuesday in the Saudi capital Riyadh where they discussed political, security and humanitarian developments in Yemen.

According to a GCC statement, al-Zayani stressed the need for stepped-up UN efforts to force the Houthis to abide by the terms of a truce — hammered out last month in Stockholm — and withdraw from the port city.

He also called for greater international efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to the war-weary people of Yemen.

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Home to several strategic seaports, Al-Hudaydah constitutes a lifeline for Yemen's beleaguered civilian population, with significant amounts of aid regularly flowing through the port city.

During UN-sponsored peace talks in Stockholm last month, Yemen's warring parties agreed to withdraw their forces from Al-Hudaydah and adhere to a ceasefire.

In late December, the UN Security Council adopted a UK-sponsored resolution approving the deployment of a UN team tasked with monitoring the truce.

In a related development, the Yemeni government on Tuesday said it would not participate in any fresh rounds of peace talks until the Houthis had implemented the terms of the Stockholm agreement.

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At a meeting in Riyadh between Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yemany and ambassadors from the "Group of 18" (G18), the former briefed the diplomats on the outcome of the agreement "and the UN's role in this regard", according to Yemen's government-affiliated Saba Net news agency.

At the meeting, al-Yemany reportedly urged G18 ambassadors to "play a greater role in pressuring the Houthis to comply with international resolutions and the Stockholm agreement", which formally came into effect on Dec. 13.

The Yemeni FM went on to accuse the Houthis of "violating the ceasefire, re-entrenching their militants and taking advantage of the truce to consolidate their military position".

The ambassadors responded by describing the Stockholm agreement as "the only way to achieve peace in Yemen and restore security there".

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Impoverished Yemen has remained dogged by violence since 2014, when the Houthi rebel group overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.

The following year, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains and shoring up the country's pro-Saudi government.

The campaign has devastated much of Yemen's basic infrastructure, including health and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation there as "one of the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times".

GCCInternational OrganisationsMiddle EastNewsSaudi ArabiaUNYemen
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