Houthi rebels blocking aid to Yemen, says Al-Assiri

Houthi rebels blocking aid to Yemen, says Al-Assiri
Houthi militias ride in a pick-up vehicle during a tribal gathering in Sanaa, Yemen, on December 6, 2016. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)
Updated 17 December 2016

Houthi rebels blocking aid to Yemen, says Al-Assiri

Houthi rebels blocking aid to Yemen, says Al-Assiri

LONDON/ABU DHABI: While Yemeni people continue to face severe food shortage, Houthis are blocking wheat and aid shipments, Arab Coalition spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri told Reuters on Friday.
“Houthis are deliberately blocking wheat and aid shipments,” Al-Assiri said, pointing to cargoes being held up at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah.
“The Houthis are trying to play the card of ‘starving people’ to gain international media attention,” he told Reuters.
Yemen’s biggest traders have stopped new wheat imports due to a crisis at the central bank, documents seen by Reuters show.
At the same time, aid agencies are warning that Yemen — the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country — is on the verge of famine, although they have yet to declare one.
Famine means more than two people dying per day for every 10,000 in the population, or about 5,500 deaths per day across a country of Yemen’s size, according to a Reuters calculation.
In September, Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi ordered the central bank’s headquarters moved from Sanaa, controlled by Houthi rebels in the north, to the southern port of Aden, the seat of the new government.
This has led in effect to a de facto partition, with rival institutions in the north and south.
Rebels squander $4 billion
Hadi’s government said the Houthis had squandered some $4 billion on the war effort from central bank reserves; the Houthis claimed that the funds financed imports of food and medicine.
In a Nov. 30 letter addressed to Yemen’s Trade Ministry in Saana, which the company had dealt with before Hadi’s decree to move, leading trader Fahem Group said: “We would like to inform you that we have been unable to conduct any new contracts for wheat as local banks cannot transfer dollars for the value of any wheat cargoes.”
Fahem Group said in the letter, seen by Reuters, that it wanted to continue importing wheat to cover the population’s needs but was unable to open letters of credit.