Thousands of tonnes of food aid near Yemen's flashpoint port city of al-Hodeidah is infested with insects and must be fumigated to feed millions of people, the UN said Wednesday (March 20th).
Last month, a team from the UN's World Food Programme visited the Red Sea Mills warehouse for the first time since September, when they became inaccessible due to the conflict between pro-government forces and the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah).
"WFP carried out a full assessment of the condition of the wheat and laboratory tests confirmed it was infested with insects which has resulted in some hollow grains," said spokesman Herve Verhoosel.
"The wheat needs to be fumigated before it can be milled into flour."
Before the UN lost access in September, the Red Sea Mills held 51,000 tonnes of grain, which was enough to feed more than 3.7 million people for a month.
However, Verhoosel said the WFP anticipates the flour yield will be "slightly lower" than normal because of the damage caused by insects.
"At this stage we cannot confirm how much flour we will be able to get from the wheat at the Red Sea Mills," he said.
"WFP is awaiting final clearance from the local authorities for a follow-up operation to the Red Sea Mills in order to begin the fumigation and to restart milling operations."