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Houthis Claim Deal on UN Inspecting Ships in Hodeidah

Houthis Claim Deal on UN Inspecting Ships in Hodeidah

Wednesday, 19 June, 2019 - 08:30
FILE PHOTO: A boat at Hodeidah port in Hodeidah, Yemen May 13, 2019. REUTERS/File Photo
Aden - Ali Rabih
Yemen’s Houthi militias on Tuesday claimed striking an agreement with the United Nations considering ship and cargo inspection at the strategic Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.

“We agreed with the UN on a mechanism to inspect ships docking in the ports of Hodeidah and its implementation will start in the coming days,” Houthi transport minister Zakaria Shami was quoted as saying on Tuesday by the pro-militia Al Masirah TV.

The alleged agreement follows heated dispute erupting between the Iran-backed militia and international humanitarian relief bodies, who accused Houthis of plundering relief aid sent to ailing Yemenis. Houthis, on the other hand, accused aid groups working in areas under the insurgency’s control of espionage for foreign powers.

Houthis, in an official statement delivered by their self-proclaimed foreign minister Mohammad Abdul Salam, accused the World Food Programme (WFP) of harboring political motives and conducting spy activity and gathering intelligence for foreign parties involved in the conflict.

Abdul Salam’s statement came in retaliation to the food-assistance agency of the United Nations saying it will suspend all relief works in coup-run Yemeni areas.

The threat of halting aid was cited as a result of ongoing Houthi looting and exploiting of international aid, whereby most of stolen relief was either funneled to the group’s war effort or distributed to senior militia leaders.

After the WFP raised the alarm on Houthi conduct, the militia hinted it was willing to drive relief organizations outside its territory if found they “do not exclusively work in humanitarian relief.”

Unable to defend Houthis against theft claims, Abdul Salam sought to discredit international relief bodies by accusing them of “working with international intelligence agencies and selling information, data and coordinates to Arab Coalition member states.”

The WFP is leading negotiations with Houthis in order to gain independent monitoring access to aid distribution in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital overrun by the militia.

Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Lise Grande, after acting as an interlocutor with a host of coup officials, was faced with Houthi lack of cooperation and intransigence.

The WFP is seeking to create a new mechanism to ensure that aid reaches listed beneficiaries by creating a biometric database, something that was rejected by Houthis who claim that this proposed mechanism violates “national security” in the war-torn country.

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