WFP, Houthis agree deal that could lift partial aid suspension

Yemenis receive sacks of food aid packages from the World Food Programme (WFP) in the Yemeni port city of Hodeida on June 25, 2019. The escalation of attacks by Iran-aligned Huthi rebels on Saudi cities threatens a hard-won UN-sponsored ceasefire deal for the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, war-ravaged Yemen's main conduit for humanitarian aid. (AFP)
Updated 05 August 2019

WFP, Houthis agree deal that could lift partial aid suspension

  • The WFP discovered in December 2018 that donated food in Houthi areas was being systematically diverted through a local partner connected to the group

DUBAI: The World Food Program (WFP) and Yemen’s Houthi militant group, which controls the capital Sanaa, have said they had reached a deal that could lift the UN agency’s partial suspension of aid which has affected around 850,000 people.
The UN agency halted some aid in Sanaa on June 20 out of concern that food was being diverted from vulnerable people, but said it would maintain nutrition programs for malnourished children, pregnant and nursing mothers.
The militant group has used access to aid and food as a political tool, exacerbating what the UN has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Of Yemen’s 30 million people, three-quarters need humanitarian assistance.
Cash transfers to those in need so they can buy goods is a common method of aid distribution.
The agreement represented an important step toward safeguards that guarantee “the accountability” of the agency’s operations, said WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel.
“We are hopeful that technical details can be agreed in the coming days,” Verhoosel said in emailed comments to Reuters, without giving further details of what was agreed. The aid ban resulted from a dispute over control of biometric data between the WFP and the Houthi militants.

SPEEDREAD

Cash transfers to those in need so they can buy goods is a common method of aid distribution.’

The WFP discovered in December 2018 that donated food in Houthi areas was being systematically diverted through a local partner connected to the group. The Houthis have said the WFP insisted on controlling the data in violation of Yemeni law.
The biometric system — using iris scanning, fingerprints or facial recognition — is already used in areas controlled by the government that holds the southern port city of Aden and some western coastal towns.
Arab coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 against the Houthis, who control most large urban centers. The group says its revolution is against corruption.


UN warns of severe aid cuts in Yemen without new funds soon

Updated 22 August 2019

UN warns of severe aid cuts in Yemen without new funds soon

  • Donors have pledged $2.6 billion to meet the urgent needs of more than 20 million Yemenis
  • But UN humanitarian chief Lise Grande says less than half the amount has been received so far
UNITED NATIONS: The UN humanitarian chief in Yemen warned Wednesday that unless significant new funding is received in the coming weeks, food rations for 12 million people in the war-torn country will be reduced and at least 2.5 million malnourished children will be cut off from life-saving services.
Lise Grande said the UN was forced to suspend most vaccination campaigns in May, and without new money a “staggering” 22 life-saving programs in Yemen will close in the next two months.
At a UN pledging conference in February, donors pledged $2.6 billion to meet the urgent needs of more than 20 million Yemenis, but Grande said that to date, less than half the amount has been received.
“When money doesn’t come, people die,” she said in a statement Wednesday.
The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by Iran-backed Houthi Shiite rebels who control much of the country’s north. A Saudi-led coalition that includes the United Arab Emirates allied with Yemen’s internationally recognized government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.
The fighting in the Arab world’s poorest country has left thousands of civilians and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical care shortages and pushing the country to the brink of famine.
UN deputy humanitarian chief Ursula Mueller told the Security Council on Tuesday that 12 million Yemenis have been assisted every month, “but much of this is about to stop” because only 34% of the UN’s $4.2 billion appeal for 2019 has been funded.
At this time last year, she said, 65% of the appeal was funded, including generous contributions from Yemen’s neighbors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The UN humanitarian office in New York said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia and the UAE each pledged $750 million to its Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan for 2019.
Grande said the UN is grateful to donors who have lived up to their promises, and in half the districts where people were facing famine “conditions have improved to the point where families are no longer at risk of starvation.”
But she said of the 34 major UN humanitarian programs in Yemen, only three are funded for the entire year. Several have been forced to close in recent weeks, Grande said, and many large-scale projects designed to help destitute, hungry families have been unable to start.
Without new funds in the coming weeks, she said, 19 million people will also lose access to health care, including 1 million women who depend on the UN for reproductive health services. In addition, Grande said, clean water programs for 5 million people will have to shut down at the end of October and tens of thousands of displaced families may find themselves homeless.
“Millions of people in Yemen, who through no fault of their own are the victims of this conflict, depend on us to survive,” she said. “All of us are ashamed by the situation. It’s heart-breaking to look a family in the eye and say we have no money to help.”