A humanitarian relief vessel heading to war-torn Yemen was diverted on Sunday after it was shelled about one nautical mile from its destination.
The ship MV Amsterdam, carrying enough grain and other food aid to sustain 60,000 Yemenis for a month, was forced to turn away from the port of Aden as it came under fire from pro-government Houthi fighters. The ship was then diverted to the port of Hudaydah, another Yemeni port over 100 miles north.
“We will continue to try to reach Aden and surrounding areas by sending supplies from Hodeidah by road as millions of people are in desperate need of food in areas that have been inaccessible for a long time due to the fighting,” commented Tahir Nour, World Food Program Emergency Coordinator for Yemen. “Yemen has hit a critical stage in terms of food availability as there is not as much food in the markets and that is now pushing more people into hunger.”
The WFP has established a base in Djibouti to coordinate shipments of food and humanitarian supplies to Yemen and will continue to send more emergency shipments by sea in the coming weeks. Sending supplies via road is highly unreliable due to heavy fighting in the region.
This weekend’s attack is the latest in a string of setbacks for aid agencies trying to reach hundreds of thousands of desperate people in the Arabian peninsula's poorest country amid a Saudi-led bombing campaign against Houthi fighters.
Aden has been one of the hardest hit areas in more than two months of conflict, including heavy street fighting, between Saudi-backed forces trying to restore the exiled president and Shi'ite Muslim Houthi fighters.
A second vessel, the MV Celine, however was able to successfully transport her cargo of over 7,000 metric tons over the weekend. This shipment is expected to benefit over 70,000 people in need of aid in the region.