HUDAYDAH, YEMEN — Grain that would help feed 3.7 million Yemenis is stranded and possibly rotting at a grain storage facility in the war-torn port city of Hudaydah, a United Nations (UN) relief coordinator told the New York Times on Feb. 7.
Officials have been trying to implement a limited truce in Hudaydah between Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition, which was signed in December.
In late January, mortar fire damaged two grain silos at the Red Sea Mills.
Mark Lowcock of the UN said in a statement to the New York Times that the Houthis had refused to grant permission for United Nations officials to reach the Red Sea Mills, where the World Food Program, the organization’s anti-hunger agency, has 51,000 tonnes of wheat in storage. That is a quarter of the agency’s stock in Yemen.
Lisa Grande, humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, recently said more than 20 million Yemenis, which is nearly 70% of the entire population, are hungry.
“The situation in Yemen is heart-breaking,” she said. “A quarter of a million people are in a catastrophic condition, facing near starvation if assistance doesn’t get to them. This is the first time we are seeing conditions like this. We need this wheat.”
The UN Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (UNCHA) said the World Food Program has been unable to access Red Sea Mills since September 2018 because of the war raging in that area.
“WFP urgently needs to get access to the Red Sea Mills so we can assess the level of damage and begin transporting the unaffected wheat stocks to areas of Yemen where it is desperately needed,” the UNCHA said.