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

CONFLICT. Gunmen loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh stand amid the wreckage of Saleh's residence following an airstrike carried out by the Saudi-led alliance in Sanaa, Yemen, on May 10, 2015. Photo by Yahya Arhab/EPA

CONFLICT. Gunmen loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh stand amid the wreckage of Saleh's residence following an airstrike carried out by the Saudi-led alliance in Sanaa, Yemen, on May 10, 2015.

Photo by Yahya Arhab/EPA

SANAA, Yemen – A ship chartered by the United Nation's (WFP) has docked in conflict-hit Yemen bringing precious fuel to boost aid deliveries, the agency said in a statement on Sunday, May 10.

The boat docked Saturday, May 9, 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 into Yemen 300,000 liters of fuel and supplies for humanitarian organizations, while a second vessel would bring an additional 120,000 liters 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 Shiite rebels 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 program in Yemen due to the fuel shortage.

The UN coordinator for humanitarian affairs in Yemen, Johannes van de Klaauw, told Agence France-Presse in Djibouti earlier in May that key infrastructure would collapse if fuel supplies were not replenished.

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

It says it needs one million liters of fuel per month in Yemen while the "total need for humanitarian operations is estimated at 5 million liters per month."

The WFP said the fuel would be distributed to more than 50 humanitarian organizations 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 March 19 and nearly 6,000 wounded, according to estimates by the UN, which has pleaded for a ceasefire in the country. – Rappler.com