- The present note is submitted pursuant to paragraph 7 of Security Council resolution 2451 (2018), in which the Council requested the Secretary-General to report on progress regarding the implementation of the resolution, including any breaches of commitments by the parties, on a weekly basis, as called for by the parties, until further notice. The present report covers the period from 29 December 2018 to 4 January 2019.
II. Redeployment Coordination Committee
Further to my previous report to the Security Council (S/2018/1173), the first joint meeting of the Redeployment Coordination Committee, held from 26 to 28 December 2018, was a historic occasion at which representatives of the Government of Yemen and the Houthis were brought together at a location on the frontlines of the conflict. The meeting was held within four days of the arrival of the United Nationsappointed Chair of the Committee, Patrick Cammaert, in the city of Hudaydah. Both parties made concerted efforts to ensure the safety and security of the participants during the three-day meeting, including through the demining of access routes and the restraint shown by the various forces operating in the city and its environs.
At the first meeting of the Redeployment Coordination Committee, the parties considered the terms of reference of the Committee and the modalities for the implementation of its mandate. The parties agreed that the Committee provided a forum in which to share relevant information, to build mutual trust and to de-escalate and prevent the recurrence of conflict in order to create a space in Hudaydah for the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement. The parties agreed on the following structures: a secretariat to support the Committee Chair; a Joint Coordination and Communication Centre to serve as an information repository; and a Liaison and Coordination Mechanism, with liaison and coordination teams to supervise and monitor the ceasefire and redeployment compliance of the parties to the Agreement.
Given the stark humanitarian conditions that compelled the reaching of an agreement on Hudaydah, the Committee Chair worked to persuade the parties to consider humanitarian confidence-building measures as the first order of priority, alongside steps to uphold the ceasefire and the redeployment of forces. Discussions on a confidence-building measure to ease humanitarian access proved contentious and revealed the current lack of trust between the parties. Nevertheless, by 28 December 2018, the parties had agreed to a proposal by the Chair to open the Hudaydah-Sana’a road (from the port and through Kilo 16), as a matter of priority, as well as on modalities for the movement of a humanitarian convoy along the route on 29 December 2018. It was also decided that the Committee would reconvene on 1 January 2019.
The confidence-building measure to open the Hudaydah-Sana’a road as a humanitarian corridor did not proceed as planned on 29 December 2018. While the Government of Yemen was purportedly ready to support the movement of a humanitarian convoy that day, the Houthis were not. In a meeting with Houthi representatives at the Hudaydah port, the Committee Chair expressed his disappointment about the missed opportunity to build confidence between the parties and to facilitate much-needed aid for the Yemeni people. Meanwhile, in lieu of preparations for the confidence-building measures, the Houthi representatives to the Committee informed the Chair of unilateral redeployment measures taken at the Hudaydah port and invited the United Nations to inspect the redeployment. While the Chair welcomed that effort, he emphasized that any redeployment would only be credible if it were conducted in consonance with mutually agreed modalities and if both parties and the United Nations were able to monitor the process and ascertain that it was in accordance with the Stockholm Agreement.
To ensure transparency and the transmission of accurate information about the events of 29 December, the Committee Chair held a telephone conversation with the representatives of the Government of Yemen to the Committee, in which he explained the events of the day. Given the extensive media coverage of the unilateral redeployment of Houthi forces from the Hudaydah port and the subsequent loss of trust among the parties, the Chair also communicated the facts about the events of 29 December through an official letter dated 30 December 2018 addressed to both parties.
On 1 January 2019, the Redeployment Coordination Committee reconvened in the city of Hudaydah. Between 1 and 3 January 2019, the Committee discussed and agreed on the operationalization of the Liaison and Coordination Mechanism. Both parties also appointed liaison officers. On 2 January 2019, a workshop was held for the six liaison officers (three from each party), to provide a broad overview of the concept of the Mechanism and its modalities for operation and to help to build trust and relationships between the liaison officers. The Chair and advance team are identifying capacities to mount an ad hoc liaison and coordination team, within existing limited resources, in the eventuality of any urgent requirement.
The parties also used that meeting to discuss their initial views on redeployment.
The Chair presented a series of questions to the parties to assist them in the preparation of their respective proposals. Those proposals were to be presented to the Chair at the next Committee meeting, scheduled for 8 January 2019.