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Houthi militants deny UN access to Yemen food aid

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Retired Danish general Michael Lollesgaard the newly appointed head of the UN observer mission in war-wracked Yemen, meets local officials in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida on April 2, 2019. (AFP)
Yemeni rebels blocked the UN from accessing vital food aid near the flashpoint port city of Hodeidah, a pro-government source said Tuesday.

More than 100 workers were denied access to the Red Sea mills warehouse, said a source in the Arab coalition fighting on the side of the Yemeni government.

“Unfortunately, the Houthi (rebels) have decided to once again renege on a previous commitment, denying the team access to the mills,” the source told AFP.

In February, a team from the UN’s World Food Programme visited the Red Sea mills warehouse for the first time since September, when they became inaccessible due to the conflict between pro-government forces and the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.

The WFP said laboratory tests confirmed the wheat had been infested with insects and had to be fumigated to feed million of people.

WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel told AFP Tuesday the mission planned by the UN agency to the Red Sea mills was postponed due to “security reasons.”

Before the UN lost access in September the Red Sea mills held 51,000 tons of grain, which was enough to feed more than 3.7 million people for a month.

This comes after an agreement was struck in Sweden in February, in which Yemeni rivals agreed to redeploy their fighters outside the ports and away from areas that are key to the humanitarian relief effort.

The ports are in the rebel-held west of the country, and the agreement especially set out free access to the Red Sea mills warehouses, under control of d government forces.
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