Yemen government to pay civil servants in rebel-held Hodeidah

UN hails decision announced by president as it tries to broker peace

Retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert (C), who heads a United Nations team tasked with monitoring a ceasefire between the Iranian-aligned Houthi group and Saudi-backed government forces in Yemen's Hodeidah, meets officials during his visit to the Red Sea  port city of Hodeida on December 24, 2018. Cammaert called on Saudi-backed government forces and Iran-linked Huthi rebels to respect the hard-won truce, Hodeida port deputy director Yehya Sharafeddin said. / AFP / STR
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The United Nations on Friday welcomed a decision by Yemen's government to pay the salaries of civil servants in the rebel-held city of Hodeidah starting this month.

For more than two years, the government has been unable to pay salaries and the riyal dropped sharply against the dollar, leaving Yemenis unable to afford food and water.

"President [Abdrabu Mansur] Hadi's decision is an important step towards improving the economic situation, and alleviating the humanitarian suffering of the Yemeni people," the office of the UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths tweeted.

"The [special envoy] hopes there will be more steps in this direction."

Yemen's Saba state news agency reported on Thursday that Mr Hadi had instructed the government to "urgently work on paying the salaries of all civil servants in Hodeidah province starting from December".

Earlier this month, the deputy chief of Yemen's central bank said it was expecting a $3 billion (Dh11bn) cash injection from Gulf allies.

Shokeib Hobeishy's statement came after a $2.2bn infusion by Saudi Arabia to stem a slide in the Yemeni riyal.

More than one million civil servants lost their jobs in 2016, when Mr Hadi moved the central bank from the capital Sanaa, which was seized by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in 2014, to the southern port city of Aden where his government is now based.

A ceasefire agreed at peace talks in Sweden earlier this month went into effect in Hodeidah city and its surroundings on December 18 but has remained shaky with the warring sides accusing each other of violations.

Gunfire was heard overnight in the south of the Red Sea city, whose port serves as the entry point for the majority of imports and humanitarian aid to the war-torn country.

"We heard the sounds of jets in the early hours of the morning for a brief 15 minutes, but it has been complete calm since then," an AFP correspondent said, adding that the situation on the ground remains "tense".

The conflict between the Houthi rebels and troops loyal to Mr Hadi escalated in 2015, when he fled into Saudi exile and a Saudi-led military coalition intervened in the war at the Yemeni government's request.

The war is believed to have killed tens of thousand of people since then and has created a humanitarian crisis with 14 million Yemenis pushed to the brink of famine.


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