ADDIS ABABA // United Nations officials in the port of Djibouti said on Saturday they had taken charge of the aid cargo carried by an Iranian boat headed for Yemen.
The vessel, the Iran Shahed, is carrying 2,500 tonnes of aid including flour, rice, canned food, medical supplies and bottled water, all urgently needed in the conflict-wracked state just across the Gulf of Aden from Djibouti.
“The cargo has been handed over to WFP in Djibouti and is currently being offloaded,” said UN World Food Programme spokeswoman Abeer Etefa said.
“The ship carries 2,500 ton of humanitarian aid and that includes mainly rice and wheat flour, as well as medicine, water, tents and blankets.”
Also on Saturday, Iranian state television reported that authorities in Djibouti turned away aid plane for Yemeni refugees there.
The report said the plane returned safely to Iran and that authorities hoped to make arrangements to allow the plane to land in Djibouti.
The television report claimed Saudi Arabia pressured Djibouti into not allowing the plane to land.
Djiboutian authorities said the Iranian cargo ship arrived on Friday night in port.
“The ship will be completely unloaded and reloaded onto other vessels, everything is transparent,” Djibouti port authority chief Abubaker Hadi said.
The ship’s mission was overshadowed by US calls for it to head to a UN emergency relief hub in Djibouti instead of docking in the Yemeni port of Hodeida.
Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of arming Yemen’s Houthi rebels, but Tehran denies the charge.
Iran says it is helping in Yemen by opposing air strikes and providing aid.
All aid and humanitarian assistance will be sent on WFP ships to Yemen, either in the port of Hodeida, or the southern port of Aden, Mr Etefa added.
The Saudi Arabia-led coalition has waged an air campaign against the Houthis since March 26 in an effort to restore the authority of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, who has fled to Riyadh with members of his government.
* Agence France-Presse, Associated Press