Hodeidah Receives Its First Ship Loaded With General Cargo In Many Years Amid A Truce Push

A container vessel loaded with general commercial items docked at the port of Hodeidah. This is the first time since 2016 and the docking happened on Saturday. This came through as parties in the eight-year war in Yemen are in discussions to reinstate an already expired truce deal that is UN-mediated.

The conflict reportedly pits a military coalition spearheaded by Saudi Arabia against the Iran-aligned Houthi team, which has not only divided Yemen but also fueled a major humanitarian crisis, which eventually resulted in 80% of the total 30 million population seeking help.

Goods reaching Hodeidah need to be vetted by a UN establishment to prevent arms shipments from getting into Yemen. For over seven years now, UNVIM has been approving ships that only carry specific goods such as foodstuffs, cooking oil, and fuel.

Container vessel
Representation Image

An official associated with the internationally recognized Yemeni government informed Reuters that permitting access to commercial vessels was one of the trust-building steps toward supporting Saudi-Houthi discussions for reinstating the truce that expired in October 2022.

Port officials said that the SHEBELLE, which per ship tracking data is an Ethiopian-flagged general cargo vessel, was given clearance by the UN inspection establishment, the Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen (better known as UNVIM).

The mechanism earlier only gave clearance for particular shipments. However, currently, UNVIM is giving clearances for all sorts of shipments to the Hodeidah port, explained Abu-Bakr bin Ishaq, who heads Houthi-facilitated Red Sea Ports Corporation.

Further, he added that the increased flow of goods within the western port would lower transportation costs, given most are entering via the south-based, government-held Aden port.

Reuters reported that it saw three container vessels being docked on Saturday.

The military alliance intervened in 2015 in Yemen after the Houthis had reportedly ousted the Saudi-enabled government from Sanaa.

UNVIM began operations in 2016 around May. It was set up as the coalition was accusing the Houthis, de facto authorities based in North Yemen, of smuggling Iran-based arms. The Houthis as well as Tehran deny such charges.

Direct conversations between Saudi Arabia and the movement that is facilitated by Oman, are parallel to UN-led efforts for restoring the truce.

The war has killed thousands, destroyed the economy of Yemen, and left millions of people hungry. The Houthis have said that they are fighting foreign aggression and a corrupt system.

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