After the discovery of an inhumane theft that the Houthis had entertained and probably indulged in themselves, the World Food Programme (WFP) has resumed their supply of aid to the deserving in Yemen. This was done after the UN discovered the pilferage and stopped aid for close to two months. The supply distribution has started at a distribution centre in Sanaa. Sanaʽa also spelt Sanaa or Sana, are the largest city in Yemen and the centre of Sanaʽa Governorate. The city is not part of the Governorate, but forms the separate administrative district of “Amanat Al-Asemah”.
Supplies include flour, vegetable oil, pulses, salt and sugar. This will support close to 85000 people. WFP spokeswoman Annabel Symington has informed Reuters that “WFP has been allowed to carry food distribution after ‘introducing the key accountability measures’.”
In January this year, it was discovered how the theft of food aid in Yemen was being carried out by Houthi rebels while aid officials turned their backs towards the pilferage. It had emerged that aid officials had been aware for months that armed groups – most prominently Houthi rebels in the capital, Sana’a – had been diverting food aid into the key areas they control, including by manipulating data in malnutrition surveys used by the UN.
In June then, the UN agency, WFP had to partially suspend supplies because it realized Houthis were not doing anything to ensure the aid was reaching the right people.
In August, WFP officials reached an agreement with Houthi authorities where the latter would support a biometric registration process for 9 million people living in areas under Houthi control. The system – using iris scanning, fingerprints or facial recognition – is already being used in areas controlled by the Saudi-backed government that holds the southern port city of Aden and some western coastal towns.
Currently, Yemen has been known to be facing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with some 12 million people – almost 40% of the population – on the brink of starvation, according to David Beasley, head of the WFP. Most of those most in need are in Houthi-controlled areas.
Further, the UN is feeling the pressure of funds and has given out a strong-worded message that should the countries that had promised to fund aid for Yemen don’t keep their side of the bargain, the humanitarian organisation will be forced to withdraw 22 life-saving programmes in Yemen soon. In February countries pledged $2.6 billion to help, out of which only half the sum has ever been received.