HUDAYDAH (Dispatches) – A container ship carrying general commercial goods docked at Yemen’s main port of Hudaydah for the first time since at least 2016 on Saturday as parties in Yemen’s eight-year Saudi-led war are in talks to reinstate an expired UN-brokered truce deal.
The conflict led by Saudi Arabia and its allies against the Sana’a-based government has divided Yemen and caused a humanitarian crisis that has left 80% of the 30 million population needing help.
Goods arriving at Hudaydah have to be vetted by a UN body. In the past seven years, Djibouti-based UNVIM has given approval only to ships carrying specific goods like foodstuffs, fuel and cooking oil.
An official told Reuters granting access to commercial ships was a trust-building step aimed at supporting talks to reinstate the truce, which expired in October.
Port officials said the SHEBELLE, which according to ship tracking data is an Ethiopian-flagged general cargo ship, was given clearance by United Nations inspection body, the Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen (UNVIM).
“The mechanism previously only provided clearance for specific shipments but now UNVIM is granting clearances for all kinds of shipments to Hudaydah port,” said Muhammad Abu-Bakr bin Ishaq, head of the Red Sea Ports Corporation.
He told Reuters increased flow of goods into the western port would reduce transportation costs for products, given most were entering via Aden port in the south.
Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the U.S. and other Western states, launched a devastating war on Yemen in March 2015.
The objective was to crush the popular Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen, and reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.
The Saudi-led coalition has failed to achieve any of its objectives. Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis have been killed. Yemen is witnessing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis now.