Houthi rockets target Yemen government team overseeing Hodeidah agreement

The ongoing rebel attacks threaten the UN-backed peace process, a government spokesperson says

epa07735662 Yemeni government forces guard as a team of the World Food Program (WFP) visits the key grain storage silos in the war-torn city of Hodeidah, Yemen, 23 July 2019. According to repowers, a team of the World Food Program (WFP) visited the key grain storage silos in the port city of Hodeidah, a month after the UN agency began partially suspending aid to the Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, affecting 850,000 beneficiaries only in the capital Sana’a. The UN agency delivers monthly rations or money to 10.2 million people of Yemen's 26-million population.  EPA/NAJEEB ALMAHBOOBI
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Houthi rebels on Tuesday attacked the headquarters of a Yemen government team overseeing the implementation of a withdrawal agreement from the port city of Hodeidah, a government spokesperson has said.

One person was injured after five rockets were fired at the Hodeideah offices of the government representatives in the Redeployment and Coordination Committee, spokesperson for the pro-government joint forces in Hodeidah Col Wathah Al Dubaish said.

The Redeployment and Coordination Committee – led by Danish Lt Gen Michael Lollesgaard, who heads the UN observer team in Hodeidah – was established to oversee the agreement on a ceasefire and troop withdrawal from Hodeidah reached in Sweden last December.

The new escalation comes a week after a series of tripartite meetings between Houthis, government representatives and UN observers aboard a UN ship off the coast of Hodeidah. During the talks the warring parties agreed on operational details of the planned withdrawal as laid out by the Stockholm agreement.

But Houthi rebels have continued attacks around Hodeidah, Col Al Dubaish said.

“The Houthi militia has been continuing its attempts to take control of sites controlled by the joint forces in swathes across the east of Hodeidah and in the southern districts of Hays and Al Tuhaiyta,” he said.

These attacks pose a serious threat to the outcome of the last round of UN-sponsored talks, he said.

A World Food Programme team visited the Red Sea Mills in Hodeidah on Tuesday, a critical facility for the milling and distribution of flour.

Some 51,000 tonnes of wheat – enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month – has been stored in the silos since last September, but access to the facility has been cut off by fighting.

“The UN team reached the mill facility and met its employees, who assured the UN visitors that the stock of salvaged wheat will be ready for distribution for needy people in the few coming days,” Col Al Dubaish said.

When UN officials visited the facility in February, they estimated they might be able to salvage 70 per cent of the stored grain. But in May, Houthis shelled the facility, damaging a silo and destroying grain stocks.

Twenty million people are food insecure Yemen, including nearly 10 million who suffering from extreme levels of hunger. The WFP currently provides food aid to 10 million Yemenis.

Meanwhile, further clashes have continued across Al Dhalea province in southern Yemen, with pro-government forces blaming Houthi rebels for civilian casualties.

"Horrible crimes have been committed aggressively by the Houthi rebels against thousands of civilians residing in villages near the clashes zones," the spokesman of the Joint Southern forces in Al Dhalea told The National.

Captain Majed Al Shouaibi continued: “The victims of the Houthi snipers are mainly women and children, more than five women have been killed in villages Al Dhalea since the Houthis renewed their attack over the northern region of the southern province.”