UN says grain stores in Yemen’s Hodeidah ‘at risk of rotting’

The Red Sea Mills contain more than 46,000,000kgs of grains. Above, military coalition soldiers in Yemen guard one of the Red Sea Mills facilities. (AFP)
Updated 11 February 2019
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UN says grain stores in Yemen’s Hodeidah ‘at risk of rotting’

  • UN envoy to Yemen says food might rot in Hodeidah grain silos
  • The storages contain food sufficient to feed more than 3 million people for a month

DUBAI: The UN special envoy to Yemen on Monday said the urgency of accessing grain stores trapped in a frontline position in the port city of Hodeidah was increasing as the food was “at risk of rotting.”
The World Food Program grain stores at the Red Sea Mills are enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month and have been inaccessible for more than five months, Martin Griffiths said.
Yemen’s almost four-year war has killed tens of thousands of people, collapsed the economy and brought millions of people to the brink of famine.
The UN is pushing for the implementation of a cease-fire and troop withdrawal from Hodeidah, the main entry point for most of Yemen’s imports, agreed in December in Sweden.
Accessing the more than 46,000,000kgs of UN wheat and milling equipment at the frontline flashpoint is a key aim of ongoing peace talks.
Yemen’s conflict pits the Iran-aligned Houthi movement against a Saudi-backed coalition trying to restore the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after it was ousted from power in Sanaa by the Houthis in 2014.
Negotiations between warring parties last week produced what the UN called a “preliminary compromise” on how to withdraw troops, although the deal has not yet been finally agreed.
Griffiths said he was encouraged by the recent engagement of all sides in talks to find a way of accessing the mills.
“We emphasize that ensuring access to the mills is a shared responsibility among the parties to the conflict in Yemen. With safe, unfettered and sustained access, the United Nations can make this urgently needed food available to people in need,” the statement said.
The joint statement between Griffiths and UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said the UN was scaling up its operations to provide food assistance to nearly 12 million people across Yemen struggling to meet their daily food needs.


Erdogan’s ‘vile’ comments on Christchurch mosques shootings dismissed as not representative of Muslims

Updated 53 min 36 sec ago
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Erdogan’s ‘vile’ comments on Christchurch mosques shootings dismissed as not representative of Muslims

  • Turkish president has threatened to "send home in coffins" visitors from Australia, New Zealand
  • Aussie and NZ leaders want Turkey to explain the "vile" and "offensive" remarks

JEDDAH: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was condemned on Wednesday for “vile, offensive and reckless” comments after last week’s Christchurch mosque terrorist attacks.

Australia summoned the Turkish ambassador in Canberra to explain the remarks, and New Zealand dispatched its foreign minister to Ankara to “set the record straight, face to face.”

Brenton Tarrant, 28, an Australian white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after he shot dead 50 people during Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Erdogan, in election campaign rallies for his AK Party, urged New Zealand to restore the death penalty and said Turkey would make the killer pay if New Zealand did not.

He said anti-Muslim Australians who came to Turkey would be “sent back in coffins, like their grandfathers at Gallipoli,” and he accused Australian and New Zealand forces of invading Turkey during the First World War “because it is Muslim land.”

But an international affairs scholar in Riyadh said Erdogan’s comments should not be taken as representative of Muslims. 

"He is a propagandist and an unpredictable politician,” Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News. “He keeps saying these things and then he issues an apology. Right now, he is making these incendiary comments to win elections.”

It was inappropriate behavior for a head of state, Al-Shehri said. “Which president would use such language and issue these kind of comments?”

In his speech, Erdogan said that the Gallipoli peninsula campaign in 1915 was in fact an attempt by British colonial forces to relieve their Russian allies. The attack was a military disaster, and more than 11,000 Australian and New Zealand forces were killed. Thousands of people from both countries travel each year to Turkey for war memorial services, and the anniversary is marked on Anzac Day every April 25.

“Remarks have been made by the Turkish President Erdogan that I consider highly offensive to Australians and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said after summoning the Turkish ambassador and dismissing the “excuses” offered.

“I am expecting, and I have asked, for these comments to be clarified, to be withdrawn.” Morrison described claims about Australia and New Zealand’s response to the white supremacist attack as “vile.” He accused Erdogan of betraying the promise of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to forge peace between the two countries.

A memorial at Gallipoli carries Ataturk’s words: “There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets ... after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

“Ataturk sought to transform his country into a modern nation and an embracing nation, and I think these comments are at odds with that spirit,” Morrison said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her deputy, Foreign Minister Winston Peters, would travel to Turkey to seek clarification of Erdogan’s comments. “He is going there to set the record straight, face-to-face,” she said.