The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and Yemen's Houthis announced Saturday that they reached an agreement allowing the agency to resume one again the aid it had partially ceased, affecting some 850,000 Yemenis.
War in Yemen May Actually Come to an End: UN
"Cash distribution will soon begin, God willing, in accordance with the mechanism," said Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, head of the Houthis' Supreme Revolutionary Committee, referring to cash transfers to those in need, so they can buy goods. This method is common in aid distribution.
"We are hopeful that technical details can be agreed in the coming days," WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said in emailed comments to Reuters, also welcoming the agreement saying it “represented an important step forward.”
The U.N. agency had stopped aid in Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa in June, amid fears that the aid was diverted from the population in need. Still, the agency kept its food programs for the most vulnerable people including malnourished children, pregnant and nursing women.
The aid restriction came after a disagreement over control of biometric data between the WFP and the Houthis.
The agency found out in December 2018 that the food provided in Houthi areas was being systematically redirected through a local partner connected to the group. The Houthis argued the WFP required the control of data in violation of Yemeni law.
Yemen’s civil war two warring parties, the Houthi and the Saudi-backed government, used, since the beginning of the conflict, food and humanitarian aid as a political tool and exacerbated a situation that became the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the U.N.
More than 75 percent of Yemenis need humanitarian assistance.
Dubbed as the “Forgotten War,” the Yemeni civil war started on March 26, 2015, when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates led a coalition of countries in a military campaign against the Houthis in Yemen in support of the Saudi-backed government of Abd-Rabu Mansour Hadi.
The conflict has since turned into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Iran. A narrative rejected by the Houthis who say that they took power from the Saudi-backed government in order to end Saudi interference into the country's affairs.