Houthi restrictions deprive thousands of Yemeni families of relief aid

English - Thursday 23 March 2023 الساعة 08:28 pm
Sana'a, NewsYemen, exclusive:

 With the entry of each new year into the Yemeni crisis, the Houthi militia - Iran's arm in Yemen, continues to impose restrictions and measures that contribute to stifling the work of relief and humanitarian programs implemented by UN and international organizations that are still working through their centers in Sana'a, which is under their control.

Years ago, the United Nations revealed, according to prominent officials, that "the Houthis steal food from the mouths of the hungry," and this came after a series of violations and acts of looting practiced by these militias against emergency response projects in order to obtain humanitarian relief aid in areas under their control and harness it for their goals.

A human rights activist in Sana'a spoke to "NewsYemen" about Houthi leaders canceling lists of beneficiaries of relief aid that were to be distributed to hundreds of poor and needy families in the Maeen district during the month of Ramadan, explaining that the Houthi authorities have become heavily interfering in the work of international and local organizations and even at the level of merchants and philanthropists who provide assistance to the poor and needy.

 He said: The Houthi leaders stipulated that merchants, philanthropists, trading houses and local associations in Sana'a must hand over any aid or aid they intend to distribute to supervisors or Houthi authorities to supervise its distribution.  However, those authorities refused, especially after it was proven that the Houthis had manipulated the delivery of aid to those who deserve it.

Stop the disbursement of aid

 The ongoing Houthi harassment prompted the World Food Program, recently, to stop disbursing cash aid intended for nutrition to thousands of women in unliberated areas, after the Houthi militia imposed restrictions and procedures that prevent monitoring and evaluation teams from verifying that relief aid has reached those who deserve it.

What the relief work carried out by the UN organizations in the Houthi areas is exposed to, comes as a continuation of the violations practiced by the Houthi militia through the bodies and councils it established in order to take over relief projects and direct them away from humanitarian goals.

The United Nations World Food Program stated that it provided cash assistance to 32,000 women as part of its cash assistance for nutrition activity in areas under government control only, and was forced to suspend activity in areas controlled by the Houthi militia since the month before last.

The program revealed, in a recent report, that since the beginning of this year, the capacity of the World Food Program to monitor and evaluate relief aid has shrunk by up to 81%, due to the Houthi militia raiding the local data company that was working for the program and closing it so far.  

Pointing out that by the end of last January, the program was not able to start collecting data for annual food security in militia-controlled areas.

The World Food Program stated that it had contracted with other external monitoring companies that have an agent in Yemen, adding that what happened led to a decrease in monitoring visits during the past month by 67% compared to the previous month, and the number of calls issued by the beneficiary verification mechanism decreased by 81%.  program affiliate.

New international certificate

 A lot of evidence and multiple UN testimonies were presented to the UN Security Council during several sessions regarding the violations and restrictions that UN and international relief efforts are subjected to in the areas controlled by the Houthis, which amounted to the kidnapping of a number of workers.

 Joyce Msuya, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, reiterated the complaint about the Houthi militia's interference in relief work in areas under its control, and warned that its decision to prevent women from traveling inside and outside the country caused serious disturbances in the agencies' ability to assist women and girls in a safe and reliable manner.  

She emphasized that in Houthi-controlled areas, Yemeni female aid workers are still unable to travel without male guardians (inside and outside the country).

She said this causes serious disruptions to agencies' ability to safely and reliably assist women and girls, calling on the Houthis to lift all these restrictions on movement, and to work together to determine an acceptable way forward on this issue.  

In addition, she said, Houthi attempts to interfere with aid operations remain widespread, including efforts to force agencies to select contractors for third-party monitoring and evaluation.

The official stated that UN agencies are concerned about the growing skepticism about vaccines, especially in Houthi-controlled areas, and the role that situation plays in the high rates of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles and polio.

She indicated that, in addition to these challenges, insecurity continues in many areas, threatening aid workers and preventing access to some places, as more than a year has passed since the kidnapping of 5 United Nations staff members in Abyan.