Yemen's warring parties reach preliminary compromise on Hodeidah: UN

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UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Yemen's warring parties have reached "a preliminary compromise" on demilitarizing the crucial Red Sea port of Hodeidah and opening humanitarian corridors for the famine-threatened country, a UN spokesman said on Thursday.

In discussions facilitated by Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) chair Lt. Gen. Michael Lollesgaard, the parties worked together constructively to resolve outstanding issues related to the mutual redeployment of forces and the opening of humanitarian corridors, said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

"To help overcome these issues, the RCC chair tabled a proposal that proved acceptable, in principle, to both parties to move forward on the implementation of the Hodeidah Agreement," Dujarric said. "A preliminary compromise was agreed, pending further consultation by the parties with their respective leaders."

"Nevertheless, challenges remain, not least the complex nature of the current front lines," he said, without giving further details of the agreement.

The talks, which gathered representatives of Ansar Allah, the formal name for the rebel Houthis, and representatives of the government, were held aboard a UN-chartered ship berthed in the Port of Hodeidah.

The tentative accord is being taken back to the respective leaders of the two sides for official approval and expected to be returned "within the next week," the spokesman said.

"The RCC chair, Gen. Michael Lollesgaard, expects to reconvene the committee within the next week, with the aim of finalizing the details for the redeployment."

The RCC met from Sunday to Wednesday aboard a UN-chartered vessel berthed in the inner harbor of Hodeidah, he said. "Both parties have given a firm commitment to observe and enhance the cease-fire in the interim."

With the aim of the talks to reopen the port for humanitarian aid and transport it to the interior using the road from the port city to the capital city of Sanaa for humanitarian aid, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said he is deeply concerned about the lack of access to the Red Sea Mills in Hodeidah since September 2018.

"Enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month has sat unused and possibly spoiling for more than four months while nearly 10 million people across Yemen remain just a step away from famine," said Lowcock, a UN undersecretary-general. "No one gains anything from this. But millions of people suffer."

"Ansar Allah-affiliated forces have declined to authorize the United Nations to cross into government-controlled areas to access the mills, citing security concerns," he said.

The United Nations and its humanitarian partners are scaling up efforts to reach 12 million people with emergency food assistance, which is a 50 percent increase over the 2018 targets. In December, the World Food Programme reached more than 10 million people, which in itself was a record achievement, he noted. Enditem

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