ADEN, Houthi rebels denied the United Nations access to a grain storage site in the Yemeni port of Hodeidah on Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter said, hindering efforts to increase food aid to millions facing severe hunger.
Hodeidah is the entry point for most of Yemen's humanitarian aid and commercial imports. World Food Programme (WFP) grain stores there have been cut off in the conflict zone for six months, putting the contents at risk of rotting.
A WFP technical team was scheduled to cross the front line between the Houthi forces and the Saudi-backed government on the eastern outskirts of Hodeidah to fumigate the wheat stored in the Red Sea Mills.
But Houthi forces told the WFP team they could not leave Houthi-held areas inside Hodeidah city for security reasons, asking the United Nations instead for a way to investigate attacks on the mills.
The Houthis argued that government forces will target the U.N. and then they will be blamed for it, one source aware of the discussion said. (But) if the wheat is not fumigated, it will be lost.
The WFP regained access to the mills last month, a step hailed by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The grain stores there have more than 51,000 tonnes of wheat, enough to feed 3.7 million people.
WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said a WFP mission to the Red Sea Mills was scheduled for Tuesday but was postponed due to safety concerns. Verhoosel declined to give details.
Source: NAM News Network