The Iranian-sponsored Houthi rebels have been accused by the World Food Program (WFP) of diverting critical aid deliveries in Yemen, where millions of people are on the brink of famine.
David Beasley, the head of WFP, told the BBC on Monday that children were dying as a result of this “desperate, desperate situation.”
He voiced concern that the organization’s public criticism of the Houthi leadership could result in even less access for humanitarian workers to vulnerable populations but said his agency had simply run out of options.
“This violates the most fundamental international standards of humanitarian principles because innocent people are suffering from food diversion, theft, corruption,” said Beasley.
The WFP reported earlier this week that the Iranian-controlled group had denied its staff access to people in need. It said convoys had been blocked and local officials were interfering with the distribution of aid.
As a consequence, the agency warned of a possible suspension of all aid deliveries.
“Our greatest challenge does not come from the guns that are yet to fall silent in this conflict,” the WFP said. “Instead, it is the obstructive and uncooperative role of some of the Houthi leaders in areas under their control.”
Four years of brutal civil war have pushed Yemen, which was already one of the poorest Arab states, to the brink of famine. According to the UN, 80 percent of the Yemeni population needs some form of humanitarian assistance and two-thirds of all districts in the country are in a “pre-famine” state.
At least 7,070 civilians have been killed and 11,205 injured since the conflict started in 2015.
A spokesperson for the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi called upon the international community on Monday “to take resolute measures to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches all those affected without any hindrance from the Houthis.”
[Photo: Korzhiv1 / Wikimedia Commons]