UN wants Yemen's Houthis to stop blocking access to grain warehouse

The UN aid chief on Thursday (February 8th) urged Yemen's Houthis (Ansarallah) to grant access in the coming days to a food storage site in al-Hodeidah containing enough grain to feed millions of starving civilians, AFP reported.

The Iran-backed Houthis are refusing to allow UN aid agencies to cross front lines and reach the Red Sea Mills, which are located in a government-controlled area, because of security concerns, UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said.

Yemen's government and the Houthis agreed during talks in Sweden in December to a ceasefire in al-Hodeidah, a redeployment of forces and access to humanitarian aid, under a deal seen as a major step towards ending the devastating war.

"Access to the mills grows ever more urgent as time passes and the risk of spoilage to the remaining grain increases," said Lowcock in a statement.

"I implore all parties, in particular [Houthi] affiliated groups, to finalize an agreement and facilitate access to the mills in the coming days."

The Red Sea Mills silos are believed to contain enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month but the granary has remained off-limits to aid organisations for more than four months.

The latest negotiations on securing access to the warehouses have dragged on and Lowcock deplored that a solution remained "elusive".

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