A building in Sanaa damaged by fighting in Yemen 110519 CREDIT UN OCHA Giles Clarke.jpg
World

Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Begin Pullback, UN Says

The withdrawal is expected to be completed by Tuesday.

A building in Sanaa damaged by fighting in Yemen 110519 CREDIT UN OCHA Giles Clarke.jpg

A building in Sanaa, Yemen, damaged by years of fighting (Picture: Giles Clarke/UN OCHA).

Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi group intends to withdraw its forces from three key ports in Yemen, according to the United Nations.

The rebel group and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government agreed to a UN-brokered plan known as the Hudaydah Agreement to redeploy fighters outside of the area.

This underway and will be completed by Tuesday. Meanwhile, civilians continue to flee Hudaydah and neighbouring areas.

The Chair of the UN Redeployment Coordination Committee welcomed the by the Houthi opposition to begin a unilateral withdrawal.

In his statement, Danish Lieutenant General Michael Lollesgaard, Head of the United Nations Mission in support of the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA), said the UN "will monitor and report on this unilateral redeployment".

The conflict between the Iranian-backed Houthis, and a Saudi-led coalition is now in its fifth year, and has left half of the country's population on the verge of starvation.

A ceasefire around the vital port of Hudaydah was agreed in December, but the redeployment of fighters outside of the area had not been implemented yet.

A doctor mesures the arm of 12-year-old Yemeni who is suffering from malnutrition at a treatment centre in a hospital in Sanaa in November 2018 110519 CREDIT UNICEF Huwais.jpg
A doctor mesures the arm of 12-year-old Yemeni who is suffering from malnutrition at a treatment centre in a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen, in November 2018 (Picture: UNICEF/Huwais).

Hudaydah is the main entry point for the bulk of Yemen’s imports and humanitarian aid, providing a lifeline to millions on the brink of famine.

Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in the conflict and the country has been facing a famine crisis since 2016.

The government in Yemen has played down moves by Houthi rebels to withdraw from three port areas, including Hodeida, that are vital to efforts to get aid into the country.

The Information Minister dismissed them as an attempt to mislead the world ahead of a UN Security Council meeting.