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A commercial cargo ship carrying 724 containers of commercial goods docked at Yemen’s main port of Hodeidah for the first time since at least 2016 on 25 February, reportedly as a “trust-building step” aimed at reviving an expired UN-brokered ceasefire deal between Sanaa and the Saudi-led coalition.
“The docks at the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef, and Ras Issa are crowded with ships, and ships are waiting to unload in the draft,” Transport Minister in the National Salvation Government (NSG) Abdul Wahab Al-Durra said, adding that a further 18 ships are currently on their way to Yemen.
The official said the ships were examined by the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen (UNVIM) in Djibouti.
“The mechanism previously only provided clearance for specific shipments, but now UNVIM is granting clearances for all kinds of shipments to Hodeidah port,” said Muhammad Abu-Bakr bin Ishaq, head of Yemen’s Red Sea Ports Corporation.
However, on Sunday, the Saudi-appointed Transitional Presidential Council based in Aden threatened to revoke the licenses and block any shipping company cooperating with Sanaa.
The Ports of Aden Corporation sent a letter to at least two shipping companies warning against sending shipments to Hodeidah port, calling it “a clear and explicit violation of the directives of the legitimate government.”
The letter also threatened to cancel the permits granted to the companies and stop their activities in Yemen’s ports.
Direct talks between the Saudi-led coalition and NSG officials have been ongoing for the past several months under the mediation of Oman.
According to recent reports, these talks have made significant headway toward restoring the UN-brokered ceasefire that expired last October.
Since 2015, Yemen has been mired in one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters after Saudi Arabia and its regional allies – with the support of NATO – invaded the Arab world’s poorest nation.
The war has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis, displaced millions more, and destroyed Yemen’s economy and infrastructure. On top of that, the Saudi-imposed air and naval blockade has pushed millions to the brink of famine and has helped in the resurgence of preventable diseases.