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Warring sides reach humanitarian agreement on key Yemen town

December 19, 2019 GMT
FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2018 file photo, Saudi-backed forces, part of Ahmed al-Kawkabani's, southern resistance unit in Hodeida, patrol in Hodeida, Yemen. Several international aid groups warned on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019 that the flashpoint Yemeni city at the heart of last year's peace agreement signed in Sweden remains the most dangerous place in the war-torn, impoverished Arab country. Fifteen aid agencies -- including the Norwegian Refugee Council, CARE International, Medecins du Monde and Oxfam -- say that since the U.N.-brokered deal last December, the port city of Hodeida and the surrounding province has seen 799 civilians killed and wounded. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2018 file photo, Saudi-backed forces, part of Ahmed al-Kawkabani's, southern resistance unit in Hodeida, patrol in Hodeida, Yemen. Several international aid groups warned on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019 that the flashpoint Yemeni city at the heart of last year's peace agreement signed in Sweden remains the most dangerous place in the war-torn, impoverished Arab country. Fifteen aid agencies -- including the Norwegian Refugee Council, CARE International, Medecins du Monde and Oxfam -- say that since the U.N.-brokered deal last December, the port city of Hodeida and the surrounding province has seen 799 civilians killed and wounded. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)

CAIRO (AP) —

Yemen’s warring parties agreed Thursday to create humanitarian corridors in the key port city of Hodeida, which remains the main entry point for food and aid in a country witnessing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The agreement follows two days of U.N.-mediated talks between the Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition. A coordinating committee sanctioned by the world body said in a statement that both parties were working on redeploying forces to improve humanitarian access and enable movement of civilians.

The port handles 70% of Yemen’s food imports and aid.

The two sides signed a U.N.-brokered agreement last December in Sweden that included a cease-fire for Hodeida and an exchange of more than 15,000 prisoners. But the deal was never fully implemented.

This week’s talks focused how both sides would redeploy forces from strategic areas in Hodeida, which has seen some of the war’s worst fighting. The talks also addressed who will oversee administration of the country’s most important shipping port. They come amid a renewed push for peace.

Yemen’s conflict began in 2014, when Iran-backed Shiite rebels known as Houthis overran the capital, Sanaa, and much of the north. They pushed out Yemen’s internationally recognized government and ushered in the civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people.

A Saudi-led coalition intervened in 2015 and has since waged war against the Houthis in an effort to restore the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power.