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Latest Houthi Measures Raise Fears of Monopoly of Yemen's Medicine Market

Latest Houthi Measures Raise Fears of Monopoly of Yemen's Medicine Market

Monday, 21 May, 2018 - 05:15
Houthi militants in Sanaa. (Reuters)
Sanaa - Asharq Al-Awsat
The newly appointed health minister in the Houthi government kicked off a series of measures aimed at allowing the militant group to seize the medicine market in Sanaa and other areas under its control.

Minister Taha al-Moutawakel, one of the group’s most hardline and sectarian members, began imposing new fees on local medicine companies and manufacturers, which will go to funding the Houthis’ war effort.

He also ordered that injured militia members receive free medical treatment.

Informed sources in Sanaa revealed that he had also compiled a list of dozens of health sector employees and hospital directors that he wanted to fire and replace with sectarian and pro-Houthi figures.

Moutawakel was appointed in the place of Mohammed bin Hafiz, of the General People’s Congress, who was fired by the Houthis’ new supreme political council head Mahdi al-Mshat.

Moutawakel, who had previously criticized the World Health Organization, recently met with a representative of the group, revealed official Houthi sources.

The minister said he was keen on bolstering his group’s ties with the WHO, reported the militias’ version of the Saba news agency.

This step was seen as an attempt by the Houthis to take over international health support for Yemen and to sell medical aid to the war effort.

As part of these attempts, Moutawakel met on Saturday with medicine and medical equipment importers in order to impose new fees and taxes on them, medical sources in Sanaa told Asharq Al-Awsat. These taxes will be imposed on top of the regular fees that they have to pay at Yemen’s various ports, which are under the control of the legitimacy forces.

In addition, they revealed that the Houthi minister objected to importing medicine from some Arab countries, urging the importers to seek others, such as Iran and Syria, and to boycott the Arab Gulf states.

Over the past few months, the Houthi measures in the health sector have led to a 20 to 30 percent rise in medicine prices, adding a new burden on civilians living in regions under their control.

Sources from the higher medicine authority, which is controlled by the Houthis, revealed that its Houthi-appointed chief has allowed the group’s leadership to set up private companies to import medicine. This has led to the import of medicine that does not meet the required standards.

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