ALGIERS – Diplomatic efforts in 2018 to resolve the conflict in Yemen were crowned by the signing of an agreement on the cease-fire in Hodeida and the exchange of hundreds of prisoners between the belligerents.
After a fratricidal war over the past year between the Ansarullah Movement (Houthi) troops and the government army, supported by a Saudi-led "Arab Coalition", observers foresee a possible political settlement at the crisis in this country to alleviate the suffering endured by the population hit hard by the consequences of the war including famine and deadly epidemics.
In addition to the cease-fire observed by both parties, a UN military mission is on-site to monitor compliance with the Stop Combat Agreement, which allows for the routing of aid to the population
The agreement, torn under the auspices of the UN, in Sweden, has given hope to the international community that a possible solution based on a political settlement to the war is possible, especially since consultations are already set in early 2019.
This perspective, desired and supported by the international community, is considered essential to put an end to this conflict, described as "devastating" and "tragedy".
With a lot of casualties and famine affecting more than 20 million people as a result of continued fighting, the Yemeni conflict became more bogged down in 2018.
Peace was compromised and people were severely affected by the war, which, according to UN estimates, has caused more than 10,000 deaths and 50,000 injuries since it broke out in 2015, while more than eight million people were affected by famine.
The few truces, observed under the pressure of the international community, have not allowed to mitigate a little bit the suffering endured by children, women and the elderly .
Each side was encamped in these positions and stubbornly defending its "supremacy" in the field of combat.
The fighting intensified, the international community powerless
Faced with this state of affairs, the hope that a lasting peace would be achieved was, according to the observers, almost impossible, especially after the failure of the last Geneva talks in September 2018, for which the international community strongly mobilized and involved.
The consequences of this war exceeded any understanding, reflecting the powerlessness of the international community to find a solution that would alleviate the suffering endured by the Yemeni people.
Claiming new humanitarian aid, top UN official Mark Lowcock said Yemen will remain "the theater of the world's largest humanitarian operation" and that it will be even more important in 2019, when because of growing needs.
Nearly 80 percent of Yemen's population, or approximately 24 million people, needed "some form or other of protection and humanitarian assistance."
Al Hodeida besieged, the humanitarian situation deteriorated
The humanitarian situation in Yemen has deteriorated because of insecurity in Hodeida, through which 70% of the country's imports pass.
This city was targeted during the year 2018 by a major coalition-led offensive by government forces to retake it from Houthi troops, despite warnings from the international community about the consequences of such an operation.
In addition, the Yemeni conflict has spawned epidemics and diseases, including cholera, which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), has killed more than 2,000 people and nearly a million people with the disease. severe diarrhea in the various provinces, while the country was under a sea, air and land blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia.
In light of this reality, observers from the international arena have estimated that the Yemeni government and the "Ansar Allah" movement (Houthis) have no other alternative to the political settlement of the conflict, especially since the latest moves by UN envoy Martin Griffiths have given hope that both sides can really overcome obstacles and join in the peaceful resolution of this crisis.
Thus, the conclusion of an agreement for a cease-fire in Hodeida and the exchange of hundreds of prisoners after the peace talks in Sweden demonstrated that the belligerents could get along and put end to tragedy
While the road to peace and reconciliation remains long, the fact remains that the moment is "decisive" to end a conflict that has lasted for too long, including the military option rather accentuated the discomfort and made it more complex.
"It is time to commit to a final political solution for Yemen," said Mr. Griffiths, who has shown no sign of hopelessness since his involvement in mediation, despite the complexity of its mission.