First oil tanker arrives in Yemen’s Hodeidah port as part of ceasefire accord

During truce, the coalition will allow 18 vessels into Hodeidah and two flights a week from Sanaa to Jordan and Egypt

epa07828287 A negotiator from Yemen’s government looks at UN vessel 'Antarctic Dream' carries negotiators from Yemen’s government and Houthi rebels ahead UN-mediated peace talks in the Red Sea off the coast of the city of Hodeidah, Yemen, 07 September 2019 (issued 08 September 2019). According to reports, negotiators from Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the Houthi rebels  have resumed UN-mediated peace talks aboard a UN ship in the Red Sea off Yemeni coast to discuss strengthening a ceasefire deal and activating a new procedure for de-escalation in Hodeidah.  EPA/STRINGER
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An oil tanker arrived in Yemen’s blockaded port of Hodeidah on Sunday as a two-month ceasefire agreement entered its first full day.

The truce between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi rebels, which took effect on Saturday evening, will also allow passenger flights to resume from the airport in the capital, Sanaa.

Both Hodeidah and Sanaa are held by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

The agreement comes after a significant escalation in hostilities in recent weeks that saw the Houthis claim several attacks across the country’s borders.

A spokesman for the Houthi-run oil corporation said the Saudi-led coalition allowed the vessel carrying low-quality fuel oil into the port, AP reported.

Hodeida handles about 70 per cent of Yemen’s commercial and humanitarian imports.

During the two-month truce, the Saudi-led coalition will allow 18 vessels carrying fuel into Hodeida, and two commercial flights a week from the Yemeni capital to Jordan and Egypt, a copy of the ceasefire agreement obtained by AP shows.

The UN envoy has called for both sides to agree on opening roads around Taez and other provinces, the ceasefire document said.

Taez, which remains partially held by the forces fighting on behalf of the internationally recognised government, has been blockaded by the Houthis for years.

“The success of this initiative will depend on the warring parties’ continued commitment to implementing the truce agreement with its accompanying humanitarian measures,” UN envoy Hans Grundberg said on Saturday while announcing the truce had taken effect.

Yemenis said they hoped the truce would not collapse, as other ceasefires have.

“It’s good, but we have learnt from past experience that it could collapse anytime,” said Amer Al Hubani, a civil servant in the city of Taez. “We hope things move smoothly this time.”

Arafat Al Sabari, 32, a labourer who lives with his six children in the Sweida camp for displaced persons, near the central city of Marib, was also sceptical.

“We hope it stands, but unfortunately ground fighting continued until late at night after the truce,” he said.

The Houthis have tried to seize Marib repeatedly over the past year.

The UN-announced ceasefire, supported by both sides, is the first time since 2018 that the two sides have publicly agreed on such an initiative.

At a meeting in the Swedish capital of Stockholm, leaders set a framework that called for a halt in fighting in Hodeida and an exchange of more than 15,000 prisoners.

The deal, seen as an important first step towards ending the conflict, was never fully applied.

The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 seizure of Sanaa by the Houthis.

A Saudi-led coalition allied with the government has been fighting the Houthis since March 2015.

The war in Yemen has spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical shortages. It has killed over 150,000 people, including fighters and civilians, figures from a database project that tracks violence show.

Updated: April 04, 2022, 9:38 AM
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