Human Rights |

Yemen's Houthis destroy tonnes of food aid

By AFP

Yemen's Houthis dispose of expired aid packages from the World Food Programme in Sanaa on August 27th. [Mohammed Huwais/AFP]

Yemen's Houthis destroy a consignment of what they said was gone-off UN food aid for the war-torn country, which is teetering on the edge of famine. [Mohammed Huwais/AFP]

Houthis throw expired food aid from the World Food Programme off the back of a truck in Sanaa on August 27th. [Mohammed Huwais/AFP] 

A Houthi fighter throws insect-infested food aid off the back of a truck. The food aid was intended for delivery in November 2018, but sat for months at a checkpoint. [Mohammed Huwais/AFP]

Yemen's Houthis (Ansarallah) on Tuesday (August 27th) destroyed tonnes of food aid they said had expired after it was reportedly held up for months in the war-torn country, which is teetering on the edge of famine.

The Iran-backed Houthis, who control Sanaa, used diggers to break up sacks of maggot-ridden rice and flour bearing the logo of the UN's World Food Programme (WFP).

"This consignment of foodstuff was going off and was full of small insects... it was not even good for animals," said Houthi official Majed Sari.

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Yemen's Houthis dispose of expired aid packages from the World Food Programme in Sanaa on August 27th. [Mohammed Huwais/AFP]

A UN source said the aid had been intended for delivery to families in the city of Taez in November 2018.

But it "ended up detained at a checkpoint for months and months", the source told AFP.

Yemen was already the Arab world's poorest nation before the current conflict began in 2015. The conflict has since triggered widespread malnutrition and what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The WFP, which says it feeds around 11 million people a month in Yemen, halted distributions to Houthi-controlled territory in June following accusations of "diversion of food" meant for Yemeni civilians.

In early August, it reached a deal to resume deliveries after the Houthis offered guarantees concerning the beneficiaries, the UN agency said.

Desperate need for aid

The war has left tens of thousands of people dead, according to UN figures.

Over three million people have been displaced and some two-thirds of the country's population are in need of aid, the world body says.

A WFP spokesperson said the agency distributes more than 130,000 metric tonnes of food each month in Yemen despite "operational challenges" linked to the complex conflict.

"WFP needs unimpeded access to all areas of the country so we can get food assistance to those who need it most," the spokesperson said.

Last week, the UN said it was "desperate" for funds in Yemen after being forced to stop aid programmes due to a cash shortage that threatens to reduce food deliveries.

Several programmes "have been forced to close in recent weeks and many large-scale projects designed to help destitute, hungry families have been unable to start", said UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Yemen Lise Grande.

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