At­tack on Hodei­dah may starve Ye­men, says UN

New Straits Times - - World -

ROME: An at­tack on Ye­men’s Hodei­dah port would push the coun­try closer to famine as hu­man­i­tar­ian agen­cies have no other way to de­liver all the food and aid that is needed, a United Na­tions of­fi­cial said on Thurs­day.

A Saudi-led mil­i­tary coalition has been pre­par­ing an as­sault on the key Red Sea port, which is the point of en­try for nearly 80 per cent of Ye­men’s food im­ports.

Ear­lier this month, a coalition source said the al­liance was pre­par­ing fa­cil­i­ties in Aden and Mukalla in south Ye­men as al­ter­na­tive en­try routes for ur­gent aid in the event that Hodei­dah port was af­fected by mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions.

UN World Food Pro­gramme di­rec­tor of emer­gen­cies Denise Brown said the agency had found no al­ter­na­tive route to cover all the coun­try’s aid needs.

“Let me be clear, there is no vi­able op­tion to the port of Hodei­dah,” she told a press con­fer­ence in Rome, adding that 75 per­cent of WFP food as­sis­tance went through the city.

Brown said other ports, like Aden, were not fit for pur­pose, and could not re­ceive and off­load more large ships, nor store and trans­port all the food.

De­liv­er­ies by plane were “cost pro­hib­i­tive” at up to 10 times the price of de­liv­ery by sea, she said.

The port’s clo­sure could af­fect ac­cess to food for more than five mil­lion peo­ple. Reuters

REUTERS PIC

A sol­dier at the Red Sea port of Hodei­dah, Ye­men. The coun­try has no other vi­able ports for aid de­liv­ery.

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