Blaze ravages UN food agency warehouse in 'starving' Yemen

Blaze ravages UN food agency warehouse in 'starving' Yemen
A "massive" blaze destroyed large quantities of aid in Yemen's Hodeida, the rebel-run Saba news agency reported.
2 min read
31 March, 2018
Four warehouses were engulfed in flames [AFP]
A fired ripped through a warehouse belonging to the UN's World Food Programme in Yemen's rebel-held Red Sea port of Hodeida on Saturday, destroying vital humanitarian aid supplies in the war-torn country, authorities said.

Large quantities of aid was destroyed by the "massive" blaza, the rebel-run Saba news agency reported without giving further details.

Four warehouses were engulfed in flames and an estimated 50 tonnes of food was destroyed, a witness told AFP.

Meanwhile, an official from Yemen's internationally recognised government urged UN agencies deployed in the country to investigate the blaze.

Abdel Raguib Fateh implicitly accused the Houthis of responsibility, saying the "criminals behind this fire should be punished".

Hodeida is Yemen's largest port and a lifeline for people in the war-battered country dependent on food imports and on the verge of famine, according to the United Nations, 

More than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in the country in March 2015 to push back the Houthis who captured the capital Sanaa and forced the government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi into exile.

The United Nations says the conflict has triggered the world's worst humanitarian crisis, as 22.2 million people need aid and 8.4 million are on the verge of famine.

Yemen is also struggling with cholera and diphtheria outbreaks.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia, which is leading the coalition waging war on the rebels in Yemen, presented a $930 million cheque to the UN for humanitarian aid in Yemen, as the UN chief pushed for an end to the war.

"There is no humanitarian solution for humanitarian problems," United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said after receiving the cheque from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

"The solution is political and we are entirely at your disposal to work to find a solution" that will "end the suffering in Yemen," Guterres said.

The United Nations is making a fresh push for peace talks in Yemen.

The UN chief has appointed a new peace envoy, Martin Griffiths, who was in the rebel-held capital Sanaa last week for talks on kick-starting the political process, following a first round of meetings in Riyadh.

UN diplomats believe the new effort could succeed because Iran has sent signals that it is willing to pressure the Houthis to seek a settlement.

Agencies contributed to this report.