HODEIDA: Residents of Yemen’s flashpoint port of Hodeida and other cities fear a UN-brokered ceasefire could collapse at any moment, saying that after four years of conflict any accord is deeply fragile, reports AFP.
On Friday morning, a day after the breakthrough agreement was penned in Sweden by representatives of the Yemeni government and the Huthi Shiite rebels, many held their breath. The Red Sea port of Hodeida, a main frontline between rebels and loyalist forces backed by a Saudi-led military coalition and key conduit of aid, had woken to calm after weeks of confrontation.But hours later scattered clashes broke with artillery and machinegun exchanges heard through the south and east of the city, residents said. It was the first test of the fragile ceasefire. Saturday morning saw calm return to Hodeida, but shops and schools remained shuttered as gunmen deployed in the south and east.
“I was so happy they had reached a solution for Hodeida but our happiness was short lived,” 28-year-old Hodeida resident Noha Ahmad told AFP after the clashes. Omar Hassan, 40, said residents of the beleaguered city have been “desperately waiting for calm and security to be restored”. “Now we are afraid that clashes will return and persist,” he said.
Thursday’s ceasefire accord has been seen as the most significant step towards ending Yemen’s devastating conflict, but analysts warned its success depends on sustained international pressure.