JEDDAH: Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen have attacked an explosives safety team who were on their way to clear land mines from a vital food store in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.
The Houthis opened fire on the UN-backed demining team on Wednesday while the safety experts were trying to clear access to grain silos in the Red Sea Mills in the city.
Yemeni government spokesman Rajeh Badi said the Houthis attacked UN liaison officers belonging to the Yemeni government and an engineering team, preventing the team from reaching the silos.
The World Food Programme has been unable to gain access to the grain store since September. More than 50,000 tons of UN wheat is stored there, enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month.
The grain storage silos are at a frontline flashpoint on the eastern outskirts of the city. Last week, two silos were damaged by fire caused by Houthi mortar shelling.
Yemeni Prime Minister Moeen Abdelmalek said on Wednesday it was important to exert more efforts to improve the administrative and financial conditions in security and health services, and to focus on humanitarian aid and relief.
He said the government was finalizing procedures for the payment of administrative staff salaries, and working on the operating budgets for local authority offices.
The prime minister said a specialized operations room in the interim capital of Aden would raise the level of coordination and communication between ministries.