Yemen: Huge fire destroys aid supplies at Hudaida port

World Food Programme warehouses full of cooking fuel and food supplies burned in rebel-held port.

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire engulfing warehouse of the World Food Programme in Hodeida, Yemen
Firefighters try to extinguish a fire engulfing warehouse of the WFP in Hudaida [Abduljabbar Zeyad/Reuters]

A “huge” fire has broken out in Yemen’s rebel-held Hudaida port, destroying large quantities of aid supply. 

The blaze on Saturday engulfed warehouses full of cooking fuel and food supplies belonging to the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP), the Houthi-run Saba news agency reported.

“The fire destroyed huge amounts of fuel and humanitarian aid and foodstuff,” a WFP employee told Reuters news agency, adding that there would be an investigation to determine the cause, which remained unknown. 

Some port workers said it might have been triggered by an electrical fault, while others blamed negligence. 

“Had the fire been controlled from the beginning, it wouldn’t have reached this extent,” said Mohammed Ghalleb, a guard of a storage facility.

“By sunrise, the fire was huge, warehouses were burning, and the fire was expanding and spreading from store to store.”

Abdul Rahman al-Faqih, director of public relations of the Hudaida Civil Defence Branch, said: “Maybe negligence was the cause of the fire. Security and safety procedures were not at the required level, despite the existence of stickers and logos detailing safety measures.”

Hudaida port, situated on the Red Sea, handles the bulk of Yemen’s imports, including food and aid supplies.

Yemen, the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country, has been wracked by violence since the Houthis overran the capital Sanaa in September 2014.

The conflict escalated in March 2015 after a coalition of Arab countries assembled by Saudi Arabia launched a massive bombing campaign aimed at rolling back their advances.

A three-year civil war in the country has led to massive food shortages and the “worst recorded cholera outbreak”, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The UN, which calls Yemen the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis”, says 22.2 million people are in need of aid, while 8.4 million are on the verge of famine

In November 2017, the Saudi-led coalition eased a three-week-long blockade on rebel-held parts of Yemen, following an international outcry.

However, rights groups warned that the spectre of mass famine would continue to loom over Yemen.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies