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People in Yemen face starvation as Houthi rebels found diverting food aid: UN World Food Program

Washington: The United Nations (UN) has accused the Houthi rebels in Yemen of starving people in their own country. The UN World Food Program (WFP) claimed that 99% of the food packets the UN sent were not reaching the people of Yemen. The Houthi rebels were diverting the much-needed food packets, instead of distributing them to the needy people of Yemen, the UN agency alleged. Additionally, the WFP has warned that the supply of assistance would be suspended if the Houthi rebels did not stop the nefarious activities.

Houthi rebels, diverting food aid, World Food Program, starvation, bypassed statutory requirements, Washington, Hodeidah port

Over the last few days, the Houthi rebels have ratcheted up the drone and missile attacks on Saudi airports. At the same time, the Houthi rebels have also accepted the responsibility for the attacks on the Saudi pipeline. The rebel activities may invite a strong response from Saudi Arabia and its allies. Considering the situation, WFP Executive Director David Beasley presented the dreadful facts before the UN Security Council (UNSC).

Beasley alleged that the food aid delivered to Yemen was not reaching its people. The beneficiaries in the rebel stronghold of Saada region did not receive food in April. Likewise, he informed the UN Security Council that a similar problem was encountered at the seven centres in capital Sanaa, where 60% of the citizens had responded negatively to receiving the assistance. Last year, credible evidence was found against the food packets being diverted. As the Houthi rebels had claimed responsibility for the distribution of food, they alone were responsible for the situation.

“The Houthi rebels are required to monitor the activity with registration and biometric identification of the beneficiaries on receiving the assistance from the WFP. Nevertheless, the rebels systematically bypassed the statutory requirements and indulged in malpractices”, Beasley alleged. He further added that “If the Houthi rebels do not stop the corruption, and abide by the regulations in place, we will begin a phased suspension of food assistance, most likely toward the end of this week”.

Beasley stated that the food aid was being distributed systematically in the Saudi-controlled part of Yemen, although he expressed grave concerns over a severe starvation crisis developing in the regions of state under the Houthi influence. In 2017, Saudi had refused entry to the United Nations vessels after gaining control over the Hodeidah port. The kingdom had stopped the UN ships carrying food aid to corner the Houthi rebels and Beasley had taken a stance against Saudi at that time as well.

Meanwhile, the WFP has warned that if the Houthi rebels did not their malpractices in the distribution of food, the people of Yemen would have to brace for a starvation crisis. The organisation has underscored the likelihood of a new conflict being sparked over food.

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