The US Devex website said the Biden administration would withhold tens of thousands of tonnes of wheat destined for the hungry in northern Yemen, playing tough diplomacy to force the Houthi rebels who rule the region to ensure aid reaches those who need it most.
He pointed out that the US move aims to strengthen the hand of the World Food Program in the stalled talks with the Houthi leadership regarding the agency’s proposal to redirect food to areas suffering from the highest levels of acute hunger.
A senior World Food Program official told Difax that it may have to temporarily halt aid operations if it cannot reach an agreement with the Houthis. “We’re still distributing” food in northern Yemen, says Corinne Fleischer, WFP regional director for the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe, “but if we don’t get a result in our negotiations with the Houthis, you know, we’ll have to stop.”
He continued: “The crisis unfolds against the backdrop of long-standing allegations by the United States, United Nations investigators and human rights defenders that the Houthis have diverted international aid to their followers, helped recruit soldiers and indoctrinate young girls and boys, depriving them of aid to the families of young men who refuse military service.
He added: “Some fear that the Houthis have exploited the food distribution to radicalize the population and transform an extremist Shiite movement into a regional power with ambitions that extend beyond the country’s borders.”
“They are engaged in general recruitment of schools, mosques and neighborhoods, and one of the ways they have been able to do this is by trading humanitarian aid,” says Baraa Shaiban, a Yemeni researcher who previously worked as an adviser to the Yemeni embassy. in London.