Release of expired wheat denied [Archives:2006/916/Local News]

January 30 2006

HODEIDAH, Jan. 25 ) Hussein Al-Wishah, General Manager of the General Authority for Specifications, Standards and Quality Control (GASSQC) Hodeidah Branch, denied reports published by some local newspapers that his authority released 34 containers filled with expired wheat.

Filled with a wheat and Soya mixture, the containers were offered as aid to Yemen by the World Food Program. Twenty-three of the 34 containers were found to have been filled with expired wheat and then held at the port, Al-Wishah explained. Only the remaining 11 containers contained wheat suitable for use.

The issue provoked nationwide outrage, compelling Parliament to summon Al-Wishah before MPs for questioning. Official document copies obtained by the Yemen Times confirm Al-Wishah's explanation.

Several private newspapers mentioned this month that the World Food Program representative pressured Hodeidah Port officials to release the seized containers. He reportedly threatened the GASSQC that international organizations may stop extending aid to Yemen because it seized the wheat containers.

Asked about details of the seized containers, the World Food Program representative denied the wheat containers belong to his organization, which buys wheat from Yemen and never imports any from abroad.