Exclusive – Yemeni Plan in Works to Stop Houthi Meddling in Humanitarian Work

Exclusive – Yemeni Plan in Works to Stop Houthi Meddling in Humanitarian Work

Sunday, 21 October, 2018 - 06:15
Emergency medical aid provided by UNHCR is unloaded at the international airport in Sanaa in May 2015. (AFP)
Cairo – Ali Rabih
The legitimate Yemeni government is drafting a comprehensive plan to review the work and performance of international organizations operating in areas controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi militias, revealed senior government sources.

They told Asharq Al-Awsat that the review includes United Nations organizations, especially after reports emerged that these agencies have veered off their humanitarian role and are now favoring the Houthis.

The sources said that officials from the ministry of planning and international cooperation have held talks throughout the week with the executive directors of the majority of the international humanitarian organizations in order to asses their work.

The agencies included UNICEF, the World Food Program and World Health Organization.

Both sides agreed to hold meetings with Yemeni government officials in the future as part of attempts to asses their performance and devise policies that would steer them away from Houthi agendas, said the sources.

The government is growing impatient with humanitarian agencies because they are not abiding by humanitarian standards in carrying out their work. They are instead clearly succumbing to Houthi orders, said the sources. The militias are attempting to portray themselves before UN and international agencies as the legitimate authority in the country.

The Houthis have seized humanitarian aid, given them to their followers and exploited them for their agenda, such as to lure in new recruits.

A recent WFP tweet stirred controversy after it said that a meal of beans in Yemen now costs around $63. The people are aware, however, that such a meal only costs a dollar, in spite of the skyrocketing prices in the country.

Activists and observers seized on to the tweet to wonder about the fate of the millions of dollars that humanitarian agencies are receiving to implement their plans.

The Houthis have since their capture of Sanaa sought to impose their rules on humanitarian agencies. The militias have forced the agencies to work according to plans that they have drafted and ordered them to direct aid to their supporters.

The majority of Sanaa residents have consequently complained that they have never received any humanitarian aid since the Houthis’ capture of the capital.

They stressed that the majority of the aid is landing in Houthi hands or the black market where it is being sold by the militias themselves.

Moreover, international humanitarian and service plans in Sanaa are now under Houthi control. The militias are directly overseeing the plans and reaping their financial profits, said informed sources in Sanaa.

For example, the militias had in recent days placed a number of obstacles in a UNICEF plan aimed at helping teachers in Houthi-held regions. The agency had planned on providing the teachers with a salary, which they had not received in over two years.

The militias intervened, however, and demanded that a portion of the aid be dedicated to its members who are employed in the education sector.

The Yemeni government has repeatedly called on international and UN agencies to relocate their offices from Sanaa to the temporary capital, Aden, in order to escape Houthi clutches.

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