The United Nations won an intensely brokered truce for the crucial port area of Hodeidah in Yemen but peace still seemed elusive as bombs mark the first day of the beginning of ceasefire.
Both sides in the war in Yemen – Houthi rebels and forces loyal to the exiled Yemeni government have accused each other of violating the ceasefire in the city of Hodeidah. Shelling was reported for nearly one hour on the outskirts of Hodeidah which is controlled by Houthi fighters.
A member of the Saudi-UAE coalition speaking anonymously told the AFP news that they had recorded, "A total of 21 violations since the ceasefire commencement have come to our notice.” "If the UN continues to drag the chain and take too long to get into the [military] theatre, they will lose the opportunity altogether ... and the agreement will turn into a dead duck".
But, Sky News Arabia reported that the Saudi-UAE coalition destroyed an unmanned aerial vehicle launch platform.
The UN brokered truce deal includes Houthi fighters pulling out of Hodeidah port and handing control over to local authorities. All armed forces are to pull out within 21 days of the truce. The entire process would be monitored by UN observers.
A UN-chaired committee formed to oversee the truce and troop withdrawal from Hodeidah city and three ports held its first meeting on Wednesday using video link and phone with representatives from both sides.
The truce in Hodeidah is to be the first step for a wider ceasefire in Yemen which has seen three years of intense war. A second round of talks mediated by UN’s Special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths is to be held in January to work on a framework for political negotiations between the warring sides.
The peace deal is also being considered a make-or-break situation for civilians in Yemen who are facing an unprecedented famine. The UN has projected that 14 million people are at risk of starvation and some say that over 80,000 children have already died due to extreme malnutrition.