Yemen: 'great first step' as aid team granted access to grain silo

A boy pushes a wheelbarrow containing food rations from WFP at a food distrubtion point in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a. Picture: WFP/ Annabel Symington.

The United Nations has hailed the first assessment of a major United Nations (UN) aid storage facility in war-torn Yemen a "great first step".

The World Food Organisation (WFO) confirmed that a team reached the Red Sea Mills near the port of Hudayah on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, UN officials warned about the risk of food aid being spoiled because it is too difficult to access.

Forces affiliated with the Houthi rebels, formally-known as Ansar Allah, had previously not allowed the UN to cross front lines to access the mills.

51,000 metric tonnes of grain belonging to the World Food Programme- enough to feed 3.7m people- is being stored in the Red Sea Mills in Hodeida, Hudaydah and has been inaccessible for over five months.

WFO Senior Spokesperson Herve Verhoosel said that while it is a 'great first step', the WFO will need to sustain everyday access to the silo:

The silos show evidence of damage by the fighting, but no apparent structural damage except the silo affected by a hit in late January, which basically resulted in serious fire damage to that specific silo.

“We have now a first assessment, we’ll probably need additional technical assessments,” he added.

The assessment team also found evidence of weevil infestation, but no water infiltration.

Yemen imports approximately 70% of its food, medicines and fuel through Hudaydah port.

Speaking at a conference in Geneva yesterday, UN Secretary General António Guterres warned of an "overwhleming humanitarian calamity" as 360,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition."

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