The United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, arrived in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Tuesday as part of efforts to revive the stalled Stockholm deal that was reached between the legitimate government and Houthi rebels in December 2018.
His visit came a day after the militias denied entry to a top UN human rights official and ordered his plane to take off from Sanaa just after landing, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The development followed a report by experts commissioned by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights detailing abuses by the militias in Yemen's war, including sexual violence against women in rebel-run prisons.
The officials told The Associated Press that after the OHCHR representative, Elobaid Ahmed Elobaid, landed in Sanaa on Monday, rebel security officers boarded the plane, withdrew his travel permit, and ordered the plane to leave.
On Tuesday, Griffiths’ office said in a statement that the UN envoy would stay for two days in the Yemeni capital, without giving any further details on his expected discussions with Houthi leaders.
Lately, the UN envoy has been shuttling between Riyadh and Sanaa with hopes to save peace talks between the Yemeni rival parties based on the Stockholm deal.
Griffiths welcomed on Tuesday the unilateral initiative to free detainees held in Yemen, calling on all parties to ensure the safe return of the released to their homes.
“I hope that this step will be followed by further initiatives that will facilitate the exchange of all detainees in connection with the conflict, in accordance with Stockholm Agreement,” he said in a statement.
On Monday, Houthis claimed having released 350 detainees from Sanaa prisons, as a face-saving strategy.
Their claim was an attempt to show the group’s commitment to the Stockholm Agreement, which stipulates a prisoner exchange, a Houthi withdrawal from Hodeidah and its ports and an understanding on lifting the seige around Taiz.
Before his arrival to Sanaa, Griffiths visited Saudi Arabia, Oman, and New York as part of his mission to reach peace in Yemen.