WFP blasts Houthis for hampering rollout of aid program

Supporters of the Houthi movement take part in a protest in Sanaa, Yemen. (Reuters)
Updated 04 June 2019

WFP blasts Houthis for hampering rollout of aid program

  • Houthis were hampering the rollout of a WFP biometric system to identify those in most need

DUBAI: A dispute over control of biometric data between the World Food Programme (WFP) and Yemen’s Houthi militia is straining humanitarian efforts and threatens to disrupt aid distribution.

In an unusually strong statement the UN agency, which feeds more than 10 million people a month across the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest nation, said last month it is considering suspending deliveries due to fighting, insecurity and interference in its work.

The WFP has said the Iran-aligned Houthis, who control the capital Sanaa, were hampering the rollout of a WFP biometric system to identify those in most need.

The biometric system — using iris scanning, fingerprints or facial recognition — is already used in areas controlled by Yemen’s internationally recognized government.

Sources familiar with the discussions said Houthi leaders asked the agency to stop the registration process in early April after realizing the new system bypasses Sanaa’s supervision.

Since discovering in December 2018 that donated food in Houthi areas was being systematically diverted through a local partner connected to Houthi authorities, the WFP has pressed the Houthis harder to implement a biometric registration system used globally to combat corruption in aid distribution.

“The continued blocking by some within the Houthi leadership of the biometric registration ... is undermining an essential process that would allow us to independently verify that food is reaching ... people on the brink of famine,” WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said.


Omani Foreign Minister begins Tehran visit

Updated 21 January 2020

Omani Foreign Minister begins Tehran visit

  • The visit comes amid escalated tensions in the region

DUBAI: Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi began his Tehran visit on Tuesday, Al-Arabiya television news channel reported.

The visit comes amid escalated tensions and economic uncertainties in the region that began at the start of 2020.

On Jan. 3 the United States killed Iran’s military commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an air strike attack in Iraq.

Following Soleimani’s death, US President Donald Trump promised to target 52 Iranian sites if Iran retaliated.

In response, Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles in the early hours of Jan. 8.

Oman maintains friendly ties with both the United States and Iran and has previously been a go-between for the two countries, which severed diplomatic relations after the 1979 Iranian revolution.