12/19/2018, 09.54
YEMEN
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Hudaydah: first violations of the UN-mediated truce, exchange of accusations between the parties

Rocket launches and mortar shelling overnight. The fighting involved the eastern sector of the city. This morning the ceasefire seems to hold. Today the UN special representative intends to relaunch the talks between Houthi and pro-Saudi governments. At least 85,000 children under the age of five died under bombs or from malnutrition. About 14 million people are at risk of being hungry.

Sana'a (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Sporadic clashes, rocket attacks and  a trade of accusations between the parties have bloodied the first day of ceasefire in the port city of Hudaydah, for weeks the epicenter of the conflict in Yemen, which is by now a humanitarian tragedy. The truce - mediated by the UN to prevent a large-scale siege on the city - between the government troops supported by Riyadh and the Shiite Houthi rebels close to Iran lasted for a few hours, then staggered under artillery strikes.

According to some eyewitness reports, intense rocket and mortar shells were launched yesterday evening. The fighting lasted about an hour and involved the eastern and southern sectors of the city, which is of strategic importance for the supply of food, medicines and humanitarian aid to a population exhausted by the war.

The Houthi-controlled al-Masirah TV accuses the Saudi Arabian coalition of violating the truce by bombarding some strategic locations, including the sector east of the airport. Instead the coalition, through Emirates Wam news agency blamed the Shiite rebels for firing mortar and rockets against the eastern neighborhoods.

The violence came at the end of a day of relative calm, in which it seemed that the truce could stand. Local sources add that even this morning there are no clashes.

The UN-mediated Hudaydah ceasefire is the first significant step in the context of a bloody conflict that, from March 2015 to today, has recorded over 10 thousand deaths and at least 55 thousand injured. In reality, some independent bodies set the toll  (between January 2016 and end of July 2018) at around 50,000 deaths. Given that it only concerns the combatants in the field, not the so-called "indirect victims" (civilians) for malnutrition or cholera.

Among the first victims there are the children, who died because of the bombs or a very serious malnutrition: at least 85 thousand children under the age of five, according to various international humanitarian agencies. Recently UN experts have said that at least 14 million people are at risk of starvation.

Today the UN special representative intends to relaunch the peace talks between the parties, initiating online discussions between the two warring factions. The goal is a withdrawal of troops from the city and the three main ports of the country with a redeployment of troops on the field, according to the agreement reached last week in the context of peace talks - the first in two years - promoted in Sweden.

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