Humanitarian workers still cannot access Yemen's Red Sea Mills: UN

Wednesday, 2019-02-13 16:38:30
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UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief coordinator Mark Lowcock speakes during a press conference held on his arrival to Sana’a on 29 November, 2018. UN urges Houthis to stop blocking access to Yemen's Red Sea Mills. (Source: Getty Image)
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The lack of access to Yemen's Red Sea Mills in the key port of Hodeidah by humanitarian workers is "a tragedy," Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN secretary-general, said on February 12.

"The WFP (World Food Programme) still has not had access to the Red Sea Mills, which is frankly a tragedy," he told reporters at a regular briefing. "It's basically a quarter of all of WFP's weekly in-country wheat stock."

"It can feed 3.7 million (people)," he said. "The fact is that we have not been able to access it. The fact is that it is at risk of contamination ... whether it is vermin, rot or anything else. The use-by date is 2020, but, obviously, that's within a framework where the silos can be monitored, surveilled, which is not the case here. So it is a high risk."

On February 7, representatives of Yemen's internationally recognized government and Ansar Allah, the formal name of Houthi rebel fighters, reached a tentative agreement on the mutual withdrawal of forces from the city and port of Hodeidah and the opening of humanitarian channels.

The negotiators then took the "preliminary compromise" back to their respective leaders. Dujarric said the United Nations are waiting for responses.

"As far as I am aware both sides left the ship, went back to their leadership and we are still waiting to hear from them," he said.

Lt. Gen. Michael Lollesgaard of Denmark, who chaired the negotiations aboard a ship berthed in Hodeidah port, said he expected to reconvene the negotiators within this week.

The United Nations and its humanitarian partners are attempting to reach 12 million people in Yemen with emergency food assistance, the spokesman said.

Xinhua