|Jan. 28, 2019 -- A UN spokesman said Friday a fire damaged two silos of the Red Sea Mills on the outskirts of Yemen's embattled port city of Hodeidah, and the fire was believed to have been caused by mortar.
Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN secretary-general, told Xinhua that while there have been a few fires in the crucial site for storage of grain for a population threatened with famine, this last blaze "was believed to have started by a mortar."
The office of the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen called the fire "a blow to millions of hungry people."
"The loss of this wheat comes at a terrible time," said Lise Grande, the humanitarian coordinator for Yemen.
"More than 20 million Yemenis, nearly 70 percent of the entire population, are hungry," she said. "The situation in Yemen is heart-breaking. A quarter of a million people are in a catastrophic condition, facing near starvation if assistance doesn't get to them," said Grande. "This is the first time we are seeing conditions like this. We need this wheat."
The World Food Programme said it currently has 51,000 metric tons of wheat stored at the Red Sea Mills, a quarter of its wheat stock and enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month. However, the UN agency has been unable to access the mills since September 2018 because of fighting in the country's 4-year civil war.