The UN 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 grain stores at the Red Sea Mills are enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month and have been inaccessible for more than five months, Martin Griffiths 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 had 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.
Accessing the 51,000 tons of UN wheat and milling equipment at the frontline flashpoint is a key aim of ongoing peace talks.
Griffiths said he was encouraged by the recent engagement of all sides in talks to find a way of accessing the mills.
“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.
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.