The United Nations on Thursday announced that Abhijit Guha, a retired Lieutenant General from the Indian Army, would be the next leader of the UN observer mission in Yemen’s Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.
Mr Guha succeeds Lt Gen Michael Lollesgaard, of Denmark, becoming the third official tasked with leading UN oversight of a ceasefire agreement in Hodeidah. The truce – which does not apply to the rest of the country – went into effect last December after peace talks in Sweden between Yemen’s government and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who have been fighting each other since 2015.
The ceasefire, however, has stumbled because of breaches by the Houthis and disagreements between the two sides about how to redeploy their respective forces.
A spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said of Mr Guha’s appointment: “The Secretary General is grateful for General Lollesgaard’s dedicated and exemplary service. Lieutenant General (retired) Guha brings to this position 39 years of national and international military experience.”
Diplomatic sources told The National earlier this month that Mr Guha was among several serving or retired military officers under consideration as a replacement head of the Hodeidah mission.
As chair of the Redeployment Coordination Committee and head of the United Nations Mission in support of the Hodeidah Agreement, he will work with the UN’s special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths.
Mr Guha served from 2009 to 2013 as the deputy military adviser and the military adviser within the Office of Military Affairs of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, also establishing the Office of Peacekeeping and Strategic Partnerships in 2013.
Previously he held a number of significant command, staff and instructional appointments within the Indian Army including leadership of an Infantry Brigade and Infantry Division.
He also served as a military observer within the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia during 1992 and 1993.
After his retirement from the Indian Army in 2013, Mr Guha served on the Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation in UN Peacekeeping (2014) and the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (2015).
He has also led a number of UN investigations and boards of inquiry in Africa and the Middle East.