UNITED NATIONS, May 15 (Xinhua) -- UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, said on Wednesday that "the first concrete step towards the implementation of the Hodeidah agreement" has been made in the past few days.
In a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, Griffiths said that Ansar Allah, also known as the Houthi rebel forces, have undertaken an initial deployment of forces from the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa, under UN monitoring between May 11 and 14.
According to Griffiths, the UN Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA) confirmed that the Houthi rebels were fully compliant throughout the withdrawal and that they were very cooperative.
"The military forces of Ansar Allah have now left the three ports Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa," said the UN special envoy. "Change in Hodeidah is a reality."
Yemen has been in civil war in the past four years, pitting the Houthi rebels against forces loyal to the government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Saudi Arabia leads a military coalition to support the Hadi government.
Political efforts continue to focus on implementing the Agreement made at Stockholm in December 2018, particularly the arrangement for Hodeidah that established a governorate-wide ceasefire and called for the mutual redeployment of Houthi rebels and Yemeni government forces from Hodeidah port and city, as well as the two nearby smaller ports of Ras Isa and Saleef.
"This moment is significant. But this is only the beginning. These redeployments must be followed by concrete actions of the parties to deliver on their obligations under the Stockholm Agreement," Griffiths said.
"Despite the significance of the last few days, Yemen remains at the crossroads between war and peace," he cautioned, noting that the intensification of the conflict in other parts of the country is alarming.
Fighting between the Houthis and forces aligned with the Yemeni government and Saudi Arabia-led coalition has escalated in other parts of Yemen, and Houthi rebels on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the drone attacks on an oil pipeline and other oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
"Events like this are a reminder that hard won achievements can be wiped away very easily. We cannot ignore how these developments affect the political process," said Griffiths.