UN food chief accuses Houthis of diverting Yemen aid for profit

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Women collecting food-aid in Houthi-controlled Sanaa. The World Food Programme, accused the militia of diverting aid away from its intended recipients. (AFP/File photo)
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David Beasley, Executive Director of World Food Programme, called on the Houthis to allow his organization to operate independently. (AFP/File photo)
Updated 18 June 2019

UN food chief accuses Houthis of diverting Yemen aid for profit

  • David Beasley of the World Food Programme warned aid deliveries to militia-held areas could be suspended later this week
  • UN envoy to Yemen expresses concern over Abha airport attack in Saudi Arabia

UNITED NATIONS: The head of the UN food agency accused Yemen's Houthi rebels on Monday of diverting food from the country's hungriest people and threatened to suspend food aid later this week unless they immediately implement registration and monitoring agreements.
David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program, told the UN Security Council that the agency in late 2018 uncovered "serious evidence that food was being diverted and going to the wrong people" in the capital of Sanaa and other Houthi-controlled areas.
As examples, he said up to 60 percent of beneficiaries at seven centers in Sanaa "confirmed they had not received any assistance" and 33 percent of respondents in the rebels' northern stronghold of Saada received no food in April.
He said WFP has insisted on — and the Houthis finally agreed to — registration and biometric identification of beneficiaries and monitoring in December and January, but the agency has faced roadblocks ever since in implementing the agreements.
Beasley said he wrote to Houthi authorities again asking for action, not words.

“Let me be crystal clear; children are dying right now because of this”, he said
"If we do not receive these assurances, then we will begin a phased suspension of food assistance, most likely towards the end of this week."
Beasley told the council Monday that the diversions were mainly in Houthi areas. When there are reports in government-controlled areas, he said, "we receive cooperation to address issues."
The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of Sanaa by the Iranian-backed Houthis, who toppled the government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. An Arab coalition allied with Yemen's internationally recognized government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.
UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths, Lowcock and many council ambassadors expressed concern at the increase in attacks on Saudi Arabia, especially the recent drone attacks on the airport in Abha in the country's southwest that the kingdom said injured 26 people.

 Griffiths said he was concerned about the attack on Abha airport in south-west Saudi Arabia last week, and civilian infrastructure in southern Saudi Arabia in general.

He also warned that escalating tensions in the region with Iran were hampering the political process in Yemen.

"In the context of wider regional tensions the risks to the political process have never looked more stark," Griffiths said. "I call for steps to be taken to deescalate tensions for the benefit of the Yemeni people as well as for regional security."

An agreement signed in Stockholm in December that focused on a ceasefire in Hodeidah is under increasing strain as regional tensions grow. The US and Saudi Arabia, which is part of the Arab coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen, have accused Iran of attacking two tankers ib the Gulf of Oman last week.

Griffiths said that while there has been progress in a deal to redeploy forces around Hodeidah, there has been little movement on other elements of Stockholm, including the city of Taez and an exchange of prisoners.

The Security Council expressed support for Griffiths and reiterated that there can only be a political solution to the Yemen conflict. A council statement condemned the June 12 attack on the airport in Abha and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.


GCC urges UN to extend Iran arms embargo 

The GCC — flag pictured — i comprised of six Arab Gulf nations: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar. (File/AP)
Updated 09 August 2020

GCC urges UN to extend Iran arms embargo 

  • Letter from head of GCC says an extension is imperative to “ensure and preserve peace” in the Middle East.

RIYADH: The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has asked the UN to extend an international arms embargo on Iran.

A letter sent by the GCC’s secretary general, Nayef Al-Hajraf, to the Security Council cites Tehran’s support for terrorism and its hostile actions against neighbouring countries as reasons to back an extension.

The embargo prevents the movement of conventional weaponry in and out of Iran, and is set to expire on Oct. 18 as part of the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal.

The agreement with international powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), provided sanctions relief to Iran in exchange for the regime curtailing its nuclear program.

In the letter, Al-Hajraf, points out that, in violation of the deal, Iran has “continued to proliferate conventional weapons and armed terrorist and sectarian organizations and movements throughout the region.”

It also said Tehran “has not desisted from armed interventions in neighboring countries, directly and through organizations and movements armed and trained by Iran.”

The embargo’s restrictions, the letter states, are “imperative to ensure and preserve peace and stability in this region.”

The US has also been pushing heavily for an extension to the arms embargo, warning that lifting it could have dire consequences.

In June, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cautioned that, if the embargo is terminated, “Iran will be able to purchase advanced weapons systems” and would “become an arms dealer of choice for terrorists and rogue regimes all throughout the world.”

Pompeo added: “This is unacceptable.”

Russia and China, two of the permanent five members of the UN’s Security Council with veto power, want the arms embargo to lift as scheduled on Oct. 18.

Should that happen, the US has warned that it could introduce “snap back” sanctions built into the original 2015 deal, unilaterally restoring all UN sanctions on Tehran.