Both sides in Yemen's devastating four-year war agreed to a series of confidence-building measures, including an exchange of thousands of prisoners.

Yemenis military personnel and civilians drive their vehicles during the funeral procession of Brigadier General Saleh Tamah, who was killed in a Houthi drone strike, as it makes its way from al Fardous Mosque to the Abu Harba cemetery in the port city of Aden. January 14, 2019.
Yemenis military personnel and civilians drive their vehicles during the funeral procession of Brigadier General Saleh Tamah, who was killed in a Houthi drone strike, as it makes its way from al Fardous Mosque to the Abu Harba cemetery in the port city of Aden. January 14, 2019. (John Salangsang/Invision / AFP)

Jordan says it has agreed to host UN-brokered negotiations between Yemen's warring sides about a prisoner exchange.

The kingdom's foreign ministry said on Tuesday that Jordan accepted a request by the special UN envoy for Yemen to host the talks but did not say when they would be held.

Yemen's four-year war pits Iran-aligned Houthi rebels against an internationally recognised government supported by a Saudi-led coalition and has devasted the poor Arab country. In peace talks in Sweden last month, the sides agreed to a series of confidence-building measures, including an exchange of thousands of prisoners.

Implementation has been slow, marred by violence and ongoing distrust between the sides.

Last week, a Houthi drone attack on a military parade in Al Anad air base some 60 kilometres (40 miles) north of Aden, killed seven people, including the government's military intelligence chief.

Food aid under threat

The UN food agency delivered emergency food and vouchers for over 9.5 million people in Yemen in December, just shy of its 10 million monthly target in the famine-threatened country, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

The war and economic collapse have left 15.9 million people, 53 percent of the population, facing "severe acute food insecurity", and famine looms if immediate action is not taken, a survey said last month.

"We were at a bit less than 10 million because the actual situation slowed down a bit the distribution in some areas. The security is not as good as expected in some areas," World Food Programme spokesman Herve Verhoosel told a Geneva news briefing.

"Some of our trucks were also stopped for longer than usual in some security checkpoints."

Verhoosel later clarified that the figures represented food aid that was "dispatched" to local distribution centres across Yemen but not all had been handed out to recipients yet.

The WFP, which got supplies to 7 to 8 million Yemenis in November, is trying to reach as many as 12 million people at risk of starvation.

In December it said that some food aid meant for Yemenis was being stolen and sold in some areas controlled by the Houthi militia.

UN-brokered peace negotiations between the Saudi-backed Yemen government and the Houthis yielded a shaky ceasefire deal in the lifeline port city of Hudaida.

In January, the WFP managed to deliver food to more than 10,000 families in two hard-hit areas of Hudaida - Tahita and Duraihmi - for the first time since July, thanks to a reduction in fighting, Verhoosel said.

"The truce is inconsistent, there are still some sporadic problems in and around Hudaida," Verhoosel said.

Since the Saudi-led military coalition intervened in support of the government in March 2015, the conflict has killed thousands of people and unleashed the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies