According to a new report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Houthi rebels, as well as other parties struggling in Yemen, have been blamed for obstructing the delivery of desperately needed aid to the country.
According to HRW, including altering relief items for its own organization, blocking aid containers at ports, the Houthis, which control the capital Sanaa and most of the north, have “aid agencies in reaching needy citizens” A particularly arrogant record of obstructing “. They also control and prevent aid assessments to identify people’s needs.
The human rights organization also reported that obstacles have increased in the areas occupied by Yemen’s government, and the Saudi-led coalition, which supports the Yemeni government, has imposed a naval and aerial blockade on Yemen since March 2015, Due to which import is banned food, fuel and medicine.
Over the years, difficulties in the work of international aid organizations in Yemen have emerged in the open, with accusations that corruption is widespread, and international aid is unaccounted for.
And it is not just international aid organizations that are facing hurdles. Food4Humanity executive director Munna Luqman described the Yemeni NGO’s experience with the Houthis.
“When our assistance is delivered to the port in Hodeidah, we find that a part of it must have been stolen,” Lukman told Al Jazeera. “There is also pressure to send assistance to areas where [the Houthis] Want to go We had a project in Hodeidah and they forced us to send it to Sanaa. We eventually reached an agreement and split aid, but international organizations often agree with them. ”
For his part, the Houthis responded to HRW’s criticisms, stating that the group did not want to obstruct aid, and allegations were coming from aid agencies that were following “political orders” from the United States.
The internationally recognized government of Yemen and the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC), which was also accused of obstructing aid, did not respond.
The U.N. and the international community have pressured the Houthis into some concessions, with the rebel group agreeing not to interfere with aid organizations’ freedoms this year.
The United Nations has also publicly condemned the Houthi sanctions, and refused to pay the 2 percent tax to the Houthis attempting to force aid organizations. Public censors have reduced the risk from insurgents, however, with the possibility that they will emphasize the work of international groups.
“We always want to negotiate behind closed doors to ensure that the best interests of the people we serve are not endangered,” WFP Middle East senior spokesperson told Al Jazeera.
“But when it goes against humanitarian principles we speak out, like what happened when we discovered the diversion of food aid into areas under Sanaa-based authorities’ control. There are red lines and we call these red lines Can’t cross. “
But UN aid organizations have also been criticized for shortcomings by HRW, including accepting demands related to the control of aid distribution, giving money to corrupt ministries and failing to investigate the complexity of UN bodies in aid diversion .
From his experiences working on the ground in Yemen, this is a criticism that Lukeman has shared.
He criticized international aid organizations for their involvement with Houthis-affiliated bodies, and said the United Nations was too soft on the rebel group.
“International organizations allow Houthis to get away with it,” Lukeman said. “When the Houthis finally demanded a 2 percent cut, they created a fuss and the Security Council issued a statement and the ambassadors spoke to everyone. When they want to put their foot down, they can and They forced the Hisaris to return. Down. They should have done so already. “
The United Nations has called Yemen in need of aid with 80 percent of its population of 30 million, the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Despite this, funding for aid projects in Yemen has dried up this year, with United Nations bodies receiving only 24 percent of the $ 3.4 billion requested for 2020. This has led to a reduction in the amount of relief to the United Nations. Yemen has been forced to halt food distribution since April with the World Food Program (WFP).
The shortfall is partly a result of donor countries, including many Western and regional nations that are directly or indirectly involved in a five-year conflict withholding funds due to the misappropriation of funds.
“The international donor community should not compromise the safety of citizens because they want to punish the Houthi, STC, or Yemeni government,” HRW’s Yemen researcher Afra Nasir quoted Al Jazeera as saying. .
“This is a new way of thinking about how humanitarian aid goes to Yemen … and make sure that the aid that people are receiving is not in danger,” Nasir said.
The diversion of aid also means that aid is not reaching those who are most in need.
An EFP spokesperson said, “If a grain of rice is lost, it means that it has been lost to someone who really needs it.”
“With the support of the donors, the work of the WFP stands between Yemen and the famine … so when food is lost it means that people are starving. It means that children are falling into the vicious cycle of malnutrition. ”