Sana, May 11 : In a move to pave way for political negotiations to end Yemen's four year war, its Houthi group has agreed to withdraw forces from three key ports, the United Nations has said in a statement.
The group will redeploy its fighters from the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef and Ras Isa over four days, starting on Saturday, said the UN mission to support a peace deal brokered in Sweden last December.
In a statement, the mission's Redeployment Coordination Committee said the troop redeployment was "a first practical step on the ground" under the pact, which marked the first major breakthrough in peace efforts to end a war that has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.
The UN mission will monitor the redeployment, the statement said, adding that it must be followed by "the committed, transparent and sustained actions of the parties to fully deliver on their obligations".
The move should allow the UN to take "a leading role in supporting the Red Sea Ports Corporation in managing the ports" and to enhance UN checks on cargoes.
"If the Houthis don't do it this time, it could collapse the whole peace process," Al Jazeera's correspondent said.
The conflict in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country and home to an estimated 28 million people, began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by Houthi rebels, who toppled the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Concerned by the rise of the Houthis, believed to be backed by Iran, the Saudi-UAE-led military coalition launched an intervention in 2015 in the form of a massive air campaign aimed at reinstalling Hadi's government.The subsequent fighting and an ensuing economic collapse have unleashed the world's most urgent humanitarian crisis, pushing millions of people to the brink of starvation. (UNI)