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‘Conciliatory’ UN Statement Warns of Risk of Grains Rotting in Hodeidah Silos

‘Conciliatory’ UN Statement Warns of Risk of Grains Rotting in Hodeidah Silos

Tuesday, 12 February, 2019 - 07:30
Martin Griffiths (C), the UN special envoy for Yemen, arrives at Sanaa international airport on Monday. (AFP)
Aden - Ali Rabih
UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths arrived in Sanaa on Monday on a mission to save what is left of the Stockholm agreement that calls for the implementation of a ceasefire and troop withdrawal from Hodeidah.

Griffiths’ visit coincided with the arrival of the new head of the UN ceasefire monitor team, Michael Lollesgaard, in Sanaa from the government-controlled southern port city of Aden to join the UN envoy in his talks with the Iran-backed Houthi militias.

Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Griffiths had delayed his visit to Sanaa from Sunday until Monday based on a Houthi request for the UN to issue a statement denying accusations by Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcok against the militias.

On Thursday, he had directly accused the Houthis of barring relief teams from crossing frontlines to reach the vital Red Sea Mills, warning that the grain stored at the facility could spoil.

The sources said that Houthis were insistent on clearing themselves from any blame in the incident.

Griffiths and Lowcock issued, however, a joint statement Monday in which they underlined the significance of the mills.

"The urgency of United Nations access to the Red Sea Mills in Hodeidah is growing by the day. 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,” the statement warned, failing to directly accuse the Houthis for the delay.

“At the same time, the UN is in the process of scaling up to provide food assistance to nearly 12 million people across Yemen who struggle to meet their daily food needs. Our main concern is for their survival and well-being,” it said.

In a sign of attempting to “appease” the Houthis, the statement acknowledged the confirmation from the Houthis “of their commitment to implement the Hodeidah agreement.” It also voiced its appreciation of their “efforts” to reopen the road leading to the mills.

The United Nations is backing a ceasefire in the city of Hodeidah as a confidence-building measure to eventually bring Yemen’s four-year conflict to a peace deal.

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