Yemen's Houthis withdraw from Hodeida and other ports

Yemen's Houthis offer unilateral withdrawal from key ports in coming days - UN

The U.N. said Sunday that the redeployment of Houthi forces from key ports in Yemen "went in accordance with established plans:".

Lt. Gen. Michael Lollesgaard, the head of a United Nations mission monitoring the cease-fire in Hodeida, says Sunday that monitors will verify the rebels' withdrawal from the ports of Hodeida, Salif and Ras-Issa on Tuesday.

In line with an accord in Sweden previous year, the Iran-aligned Houthi movement began on Saturday a unilateral pullout from three Red Sea ports used for grain, oil, commerce and aid.

Rebels also said they had begun leaving Ras Isa, a port used for oil, and Salif, used for grain, according to The New York Times.

"The UN has started monitoring this unilateral step", a source told reporters.

Security concerns prevented the United Nations for months from accessing 51,000 tonnes of wheat in silos near Hodeidah that could feed millions in the impoverished country.

The council is due to hear a briefing on Hodeida on Wednesday.

"Martin Griffiths wants to achieve victory even if the Houthis hand over (the ports) to themselves", the government-appointed official said.

"They took this fake step to avoid being identified as the party responsible for hindering the peace process in Yemen", Mr Al Qudaimi said.

However, Yemeni Information Minister Muammar al-Iryani told Reuters the pullout was "a flagrant show".

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But amid deep distrust among all parties in the war, a senior government official, Al-Hasan Taher, said the rebels were merely installing Houthi militia members in Coast Guard and police uniforms.

Yemeni Information Moammar Al Eryani on Saturday described the operation as an attempt to mislead the worldwide community, which has been increasing pressure for an end to the war. He added that the Houthis must commit to following fully through with the redeployment, which is expected to take place over three days.

Formal verification of the first redeployment will take place at the three ports on Tuesday, according to the UN.

While the Houthi move encouraged foreign powers pushing to re-open humanitarian corridors, displaced Hodeidah residents said they were not ready to return.

Houthi rebels in Yemen have begun recalling their fighters from the port city of Hudaida.

A United Nations source told Reuters on Saturday that the RCC would announce its assessment of the Houthi redeployment next week.

Under plans to avert a full-scale assault, the Houthis are to pull back 5km (3 miles) from the ports between 11 and 14 May.

Pro-government forces have twice tried to seize the port, and accuse the Houthis of using it to smuggle in weapons from Iran.

The conflict in Yemen has already claimed tens of thousands of lives and put millions on the brink of starvation in what was already the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula.

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