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UN-chartered ship docks in Yemen with fuel for aid deliveries

Aid agencies have warned of a humanitarian crisis in Yemen since the Saudi-led airstrikes began in March
Yemeni kids waiting in a water queue with jerry cans in Aden, Yemen on 5 April (AA)

A ship chartered by the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) has docked in conflict-ridden Yemen bringing precious fuel to boost aid deliveries, the agency said in a statement on Sunday.

The boat docked on Saturday in the western port of Hodeida in a move aimed at "opening up a new humanitarian lifeline for civilians impacted by the conflict" in Yemen, where drastic fuel shortages have hurt aid operations, the WFP said.

It said that the MV Amsterdam brought 300,000 litres of fuel and supplies for humanitarian organisations into Yemen, while a second vessel would bring an additional 120,000 litres of fuel on Sunday.

"This breakthrough for the UN humanitarian operation in Yemen will allow us to reach hundreds of thousands of people in need of urgent food assistance," said Purnima Kashyap, WFP country director in Yemen. 

Aid agencies have warned of a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes in March against Houthis who overran the country and forced the president to flee.

"All humanitarian operations in the country had ground to a halt because of a shortage of fuel," the WFP said in its statement. 

The UN agency had announced it was halting its food distribution programme in Yemen due to the fuel shortage.

The UN coordinator for humanitarian affairs in Yemen, Johannes van de Klaauw, told AFP in Djibouti earlier this month that key infrastructure would collapse if fuel supplies were not replenished.

According to the WFP, an estimated 12mn people are struggling to eat in Yemen.

It says it needs one million litres of fuel per month in Yemen while the "total need for humanitarian operations is estimated at five million litres per month".

The WFP said the fuel would be distributed to more than 50 humanitarian organisations in Yemen, both in Hodeida and in the capital Sanaa "so deliveries of humanitarian and relief aid can resume".

 

More than 1,400 people have been killed in fighting in Yemen since 19 March and nearly 6,000 wounded, according to estimates by the UN, which has pleaded for a ceasefire in the country.