UN in plea to Houthis for access to grain that could feed millions

New York - The UN's humanitarian aid coordinator issued a plea on Thursday for access to food aid that has been sitting in silos for months while millions of Yemenis are on the brink of famine.

Yemen, one of the Arab world's poorest countries, has been in the grips of a devastating power struggle between the Saudi-backed government and the Iran-linked rebels since late 2014.
At Hodeida's Red Sea Mills there is enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month, but the UN has been blocked from accessing the area since September 2018, Mark Lowcock said in a statement.
"No one gains anything from this: but millions of starving people suffer," Lowcock said.
Two of the silos, which are located in government-controlled territory, were hit by mortar shells in January. The grain that was destroyed was probably enough to feed hundreds of thousands of people for a month, the statement added.
Forces affiliated with Ansar Allah - the official name of the Houthis - have refused to authorize the UN to cross lines into government-controlled areas to access the mills, the statement said.
As time passes, the risk of spoilage to what is left increases, Lowcock warned. Despite ongoing discussions between the Houthis and the government, a solution to the access issue remains "elusive," he said.
Lowcock implored all parties to finalize an agreement to facilitate access to the mills in the coming days.
In December, the government and the rebels agreed on a truce involving Yemen's key port city of Hodeida. However, both sides have since accused each other of breaching the ceasefire.


Thursday, February 7th 2019

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