Crucial grain silos in Yemen’s Hudaydah come under fire, UN says

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says grain silos just outside Yemen’s port city of Hudaydah, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis, have come under gunfire.

Herve Verhoosel, the WFP’s senior spokesperson, said in a statement on Friday that gunfire had hit the Red Sea Mills silos, which contain some 51,000 metric tons of grain — enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month — on Thursday, just days after aid staff gained access to the site.

“It appears that two silos were hit, one of which contains wheat,” he said, noting, “There was no fire.”

The UN agency is still assessing the damage from the attack, Verhoosel said, adding that the WFP was unaware who was behind it.

On Sunday, a WFP team finally gained access to the silos after its inspection was delayed for a month.

Hudaydah has seen some of the heaviest fighting in the four-year Saudi war against the impoverished Yemen.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE launched an offensive on Hudaydah in June 2018 but have faced strong resistance put up by Yemeni armed forces — led by Houthis — and the city’s residents.

During peace talks in Sweden last December, representatives from the Houthi Ansarullah movement and the Riyadh-sponsored former regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi agreed to cease fighting in Hudaydah.

After the deal was struck, the WFP managed to access the mills in February for the first time since September 2018, when the heavy fighting made them inaccessible.

The Houthis have, however, reported numerous truce violations by the Saudi-backed side.

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According to new figures from the UN, the Saudi war in Yemen will have claimed about 102,000 lives by the end of 2019.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the devastating war against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of Hadi back to power and eliminating the Houthis. They have failed to do either.

The UN has described the humanitarian crisis in Yemen caused by the war as the worst in the world, with 24.1 million — more than two-thirds of the population — being in need of aid.

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