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U.N. sends monitors to observe cease-fire in Yemen

The U.N. Security Council has sent monitors to Yemen to observe the implementation of a cease-fire agreement between the government and opposition Houthi movement.

Voice of America reported Saturday that the monitoring team, led by Patrick Cammaert, a retired Dutch general, met with government officials in their capital, Aden. The next stop was Sana'a and then to the Red Sea port city of Hodeida.

On Friday in New York, the 15-member council directed the secretary-general to establish and deploy, "for an initial period of 30 days," an advance monitoring team on the ground, to support and facilitate the immediate implementation of the agreement by the two sides earlier in Stockholm, Sweden.

The security council unanimously endorsed the agreement, insisting that all parties fully respect the cease-fire and for leaders on both sides to redeploy their forces away from Hudaydah city and the port areas "within 21 days of the cease-fire coming into force."

In addition, the resolution urged the parties to continue to "engage constructively, in good faith and without preconditions" with Martin Griffiths, the U.N. special envoy for Yemen. That includes working to stabilize the war-battered economy and reopening Sana'a's airport.

In addition, they will commit to another round of peace talks in January.

In a U.N. news release, "the Security Council also expressed 'deep regret' at the loss of life and injuries in the conflict, the use of children on the battlefield, and stressed that all those fighting need to ensure that civilians are protected and allowed safe passage."

And the two sides were urged to comply with applicable international law, including humanitarian law to respect and protect medical facilities and personnel, protecting civilian infrastructure, allowing a reliable food distribution network and withdrawing military from civilian buildings and area.

"Today, at last, the council has taken a much needed step to respond to the urgency of the humanitarian disaster as well as the international community's growing outrage and desire to put an end to the brutal war in Yemen," Frank McManus, Yemen country director for the International Rescue Committee, told The Guardian.

"With more than 20 million Yemenis facing severe hunger, and 10 million on the brink of famine, it is imperative the agreements reached in Sweden are implemented effective immediately, and all parties to the conflict commit to further talks in January."

The resolution was stripped of language on guaranteeing humanitarian deliveries and the need for accountability for war crimes at the insistence of the United States, which has veto power in the Security Council. The Saudi Arabia and Emirati coalition has resisted any U.N. constraints on its operations in Yemen.

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