The United Nations renewed its plea to access food aid stored in mills for more than five months, to distribute in Yemen, where millions are on the brink of famine in the war-torn country.
The Red Sea Mills silos, located in the western port city of Hodeida, are believed to contain enough grain to feed several million people for a month. But the granary has remained off-limits to aid organizations for months. "The World Food Program (WFP) grain stored in the mills, enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month, has been inaccessible for over five months and is at risk of rotting," read a joint statement by the U.N. aid chief and special envoy for Yemen. "We emphasize that ensuring access to the mills is a shared responsibility among the parties to the conflict in Yemen." The Iranian-aligned Houthis and the Saudi-backed government agreed on a cease-fire to withdraw forces at peace talks in Stockholm in December following months of diplomacy. Fighting has largely abated in Hodeida, but progress on the withdrawal has been slow.
Yemen lies beside the southern mouth of the Red Sea, one of the most important trade routes in the world for oil tankers. It has been wracked by conflict for the last five years when Shiite Houthi rebels overran much of the country. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the former Saudi defense minister, and Saudi Arabia's allies launched Operation Decisive Storm in March 2015. Civilians have borne the brunt of the conflict. The last available U.N. figure for the civilian death toll was published in 2016 and stood at more than 10,000. The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, which tracks violence in Yemen, puts it at around 57,000 people.