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Deployment of 75 UN observers to follow up truce in Yemen

United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and emergency relief coordinator Mark Lowcock, speaks during a press conference held on his arrival to Sana'a on November 29, 2018 in Sana'a, Yemen. (Photo by Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)
United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and emergency relief coordinator Mark Lowcock, speaks during a press conference held on his arrival to Sana'a on 29 November, 2018 in Sana'a, Yemen [Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images]

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock has stated on Wednesday to the UN Security Council about the situation in Yemen. UN Secretary-General António Guterres asked the Security Council to approve the deployment of 75 observers in the city and port of Al-Hudaydah for six months to monitor the ceasefire and the redeployment of the forces of the two sides of the war.

The 15-nation Security Council will have to take action on Guterres’s request by 20 January, which marks the end of a 30-day mandate for an initial monitoring team led by Dutch general Patrick Cammaert.

However, the number of the members of monitoring team who are currently in Al-Hudaydah, under Cammaert’s leadership, is still not clear. The UN said the team members are unarmed and do not wear uniforms.

At the end of last month, the Security Council asked Guterres to recommend another larger monitoring team. Diplomats said the draft resolution approving Guterres’s proposal has not yet been submitted to the Council by any member states.

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In the proposal submitted by Guterres to the Council on 31 December, which Reuters has monitored, the Secretary-General described the 75-member team as “a light presence to monitor compliance with the agreement, and to demonstrate and assess facts and conditions on the ground.”

Guterres wrote: “There will also be a need for adequate resources and assets to ensure the safety and security of the United Nations personnel, including armoured vehicles, communications infrastructure, aircraft and appropriate medical support.” He added: “These resources are a prerequisite to ensure the successful and sustainable start of the proposed mission’s task.”

Guterres continued saying: “The larger monitoring mission will help support the fragile political process re-launched by UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffith, who is trying to arrange another round of talks between the warring parties this month.”

Guterres also called on Yemen’s neighbouring countries to help observers by “ensuring freedom and speed of movement… from and to Yemen for all the members, equipment and supplies passing through its borders, as well as the positioning of staff, vehicles and support aircraft on its territories.” He added that similar pledges are needed to expand humanitarian operations inside Yemen.

After week-long talks in Sweden last month under the United Nations’ auspices, the Houthis group, allied with Iran, and the Yemeni government, backed by the Saudi alliance, reached an agreement on Al-Hudaydah, which represents the entry point for most trade goods and aid supplies to Yemen, and a lifeline for millions of Yemenis who are on the brink of hunger.

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