A tanker carrying badly needed fuel arrived in Yemen’s blockaded port of Hodeida on Sunday, as a ceasefire aimed at stopping fighting in the war-torn country for two months entered its first full day.
The truce agreement, which took effect on Saturday evening, allows for shipments of fuel to arrive in Hodeida and for passenger flights to resume from the airport in the capital of Sanaa.
Both Hodeida and Sanaa are held by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
The agreement followed a significant escalation in hostilities in recent weeks that saw the Houthis claim several attacks across the country’s borders, targeting the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Essam al-Motwakel, spokesman for the Houthi-run oil corporation, said the Saudi-led coalition allowed the vessel – carrying mazut, a low-quality fuel oil – into Hodeida. The port handles about 70% of Yemen’s commercial and humanitarian imports.
He called on UN envoy Hans Grundberg to work with the coalition and accelerate the arrival of other vessels to ease a longtime fuel crisis in Houthi-held areas.
During the two-month truce, the Saudi-led coalition will allow 18 vessels carrying fuel into Hodeida, and two commercial flights a week from the Yemeni capital to Jordan and Egypt, according to a copy of the truce obtained by the Associated Press.
Mr Grundberg has called for both sides to agree on opening roads around Taiz and other provinces, the ceasefire document said.
Taiz, which remains partially held by the forces fighting on behalf of the internationally recognised government, has been blockaded by the Houthis for years.
“The success of this initiative will depend on the warring parties’ continued commitment to implementing the truce agreement with its accompanying humanitarian measures,” the UN envoy said on Saturday when announcing that the truce had taken effect.
The ceasefire is the first time since 2018 that the two sides have publicly agreed on such an initiative.
At a meeting in the Swedish capital of Stockholm, leaders set a framework that called for a halt to fighting in Hodeida and an exchange of more than 15,000 prisoners. The deal, seen as an important first step towards ending the conflict, was never fully implemented.
The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of Sanaa by the Houthis. A Saudi-led coalition allied with the government has been fighting the Houthis since March 2015.
The war in Yemen has spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical shortages. It has killed more than 150,000 people, including fighters and civilians, according to a database project that tracks violence.