Food aid in a warehouse on the frontlines of the Yemen war is at risk of rotting, the UN said yesterday, leaving millions of Yemenis without access to life-saving sustenance. The Red Sea Mills silos, in Hodeida, are believed to contain enough grain to feed several million people for a month. But the granary has remained off-limits to aid organisations for months, reported AFP.
The United Nations special envoy to Yemen on Monday said the urgency of accessing grain stores trapped in a frontline position in the port city of Hodeidah was increasing as the food was “at risk of rotting”.
“The World Food Programme (WFP) grain stored in the mills — enough to feed 3.7mn people for a month — has been inaccessible for over five months and is at risk of rotting,” read a joint statement by the UN aid chief.
“We emphasize that ensuring access to the mills is a shared responsibility among the parties to the conflict in Yemen. With safe, unfettered and sustained access, the United Nations can make this urgently needed food available to people in need,” the statement said.
The militias had shelled grain mills and silos last month where wheat is stored using a number of missiles, and causing severe damage, a Yemeni military source said.
According to the official Yemeni news agency, the militias targeted the mills in order to prevent a visit, which was scheduled by the United Nations, and to obstruct the agreement made to facilitate the distribution of relief materials to Sanaa and the coastal strip.
The UN is pushing for the implementation of a ceasefire and troop withdrawal from Hodeidah, the main entry point for most of Yemen’s imports, agreed in December in Sweden. In January, the WFP had accused the Houthis of stealing food aid meant for starving Yemenis.
After hearing that humanitarian food was being sold on the open market in Sanaa, WFP said it found many people had not received the food rations to which they are entitled, and that at least one local partner organization affiliated with the Houthi Ministry of Education was committing fraud.
The joint statement between Griffiths and UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said the UN was scaling up its operations to provide food assistance to nearly 12 million people across Yemen struggling to meet their daily food needs.
UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths, who in December secured a ceasefire agreement for Hodeida between the Iran-backed rebels and Saudi-led coalition, and UN aid chief Mark Lowcock on Monday said the rebels had made “efforts to re-open the road leading to the mills” in the joint statement.
The Yemen war has killed around 10,000 people since 2015, according to the World Health Organisation. Other rights groups estimate the toll is significantly higher.
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