Houthi militants in Yemen shell World Food Program’s Hodeidah grain store

The WFP grain stores at the Red Sea Mills have become a focal point of the conflict in Hodeidah, where the United Nations is trying to enforce a ceasefire and troop withdrawal. (AFP/File Photo Feb 2019)
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Updated 31 December 2019

Houthi militants in Yemen shell World Food Program’s Hodeidah grain store

  • WFP grain stores at the Red Sea Mills have become a focal point of the conflict
  • No comment from Houthi media

DUBAI: Houthi artillery fire has damaged a mill on the frontline near the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, forcing the World Food Programme to suspended the milling of grain intended for food aid to a starving population, the agency said on Monday.
Yemen’s government’s information minister, Moammar Al-Eryani, also said the Houthi militia had carried out the shelling.
There was no comment from Houthi media.
The WFP grain stores at the Red Sea Mills have become a focal point of the conflict in Hodeidah, where the United Nations is trying to enforce a ceasefire and troop withdrawal agreed a year ago at Stockholm peace talks.
“The milling of WFP wheat at the Red Sea Mills near Hodeidah has been temporarily halted after the mills were hit by artillery fire on Thursday 26 December,” a WFP spokesperson said.
The Red Sea Mills lie on a frontline between forces loyal to the President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s internationally-recognized government and the Iranian-backed Houthi forces.

The war has severely hit food supplies in Yemen and millions of people are at risk of starvation in what aid agencies describe as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
The stores were off limits for around six months and were at risk of rotting until the WFP negotiated access in late February and began cleaning and milling what had been enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month.
So far just over 2,500 tons has been milled into flour and dispatched, the spokesperson said.

Yemen has been mired in almost five years of conflict since the Houthi movement ousted Hadi’s government from power in the capital Sanaa in late 2014, prompting intervention in 2015 by an Arab military coalition in a bid to restore his government.
A statement by a mill official carried by the media office of the Giants Brigade, part of Yemeni government forces, said the shelling put a hole in a grain silo, exposing it to the elements.
The UN has been trying to re-launch political negotiations to end the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed millions to the brink of famine.
A year on from the Stockholm deal, UN-mediated talks between warring parties in the Hodeidah have so far failed to achieve a full troop withdrawal and cease-fire.


Erdogan under fire over plea for cash

Updated 47 min 7 sec ago

Erdogan under fire over plea for cash

  • The new fund replaces donation accounts set up by Erdogan’s political rivals

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been accused of dodging his responsibilities by launching a nationwide donation campaign to help low-income earners struggling with the coronavirus outbreak.

The new fund replaces donation accounts set up by Erdogan’s political rivals in the Ankara and Istanbul municipalities, which were abruptly blocked by the Interior Ministry.

Many people prefer making donations to city mayors because it offers greater transparency on how their money is spent.

Erdogan’s new campaign, labeled “We are self-sufficient, Turkey,” called on Turkish citizens to make financial donations to a specific bank account. The president promised to donate seven months of his salary, and the Cabinet joined the appeal with a donation of more than $790,000.

“Our goal is to help those financially struggling, especially daily wage workers, due to the precautions taken against the outbreak,” Erdogan said.

But opposition IYI Party leader Meral Aksener said Erdogan’s “salary is not enough … instead he should donate the plane given to him by the Qatari emir.”

With thousands facing wage cuts or joblessness amid tightened measures to curb the outbreak, Erdogan’s call for nationwide donations has been widely criticized as an attempt to avoid government responsibility.

Other critics said that the donation campaign was a last resort to avoid asking for help from the International Monetary Fund because of Turkey’s economic problems.

Research analyst Sinem Adar said the campaign was motivated by Erdogan’s rivalry with the Istanbul and Ankara municipalities.