The suspension of aid in Hajjah, where Houthis admitted to stealing 120 tons of lentils in January, is on the table if authorities don't intervene to stop obstruction of aid delivery
WFP again considers aid suspension amid continued Houthi obstruction
The World Food Programme (WFP) has threatened to suspend aid distribution in Hajjah governorate following contested accusations by Houthi authorities that the UN body is storing spoiled wheat.
Houthi authorities said on Wednesday that they confiscated six WFP trucks containing inedible wheat. The wheat did not pass the quality control measures established by the Yemeni Authority for Specifications, Standards and Quality Control, according to Alan Ali Fadhil, director of the Hajjah branch of the Houthi-controlled Supreme Council for the Management and Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (SCMCHA).
In a statement to Almasdar Online, a WFP representative said the wheat had been approved for distribution by the Yemeni Authority for Specifications, Standards and Quality Control, but the aid had spoiled after being confiscated and held by local authorities in Hajjah.
The WFP official, who requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the press, said the suspension of aid in Hajjah is on the table if the authorities do not intervene to stop the obstruction of aid delivery. Fadhil, the Houthi's SCMCHA director in Hajjah, has been at the center of multiple cases of aid manipulation in recent months.
The threat to suspend aid in Hajjah comes less than two months after UN leaders met in Brussels to discuss a potential aid freeze throughout Houthi-controlled areas due to ongoing obstruction, theft and diversion of humanitarian aid.
The Houthis responded to that ultimatum by making several concessions, including returning 120 metric tons of lentils stolen from the UN food agency in January, releasing WFP biometric that had been held at Sana’a International Airport and eliminating a controversial tax on international humanitarian operations. The Houthis and WFP then announced the resumption of a biometric registration process, which has been another source of tensions between the two groups.
Last summer, WFP partially suspended food assistance operations for three months, after Houthi authorities refused to implement the biometric registration system. The fingerprint technology aims to ensure that aid reaches its intended recipients.
Editing by Ahlam Mohsen and Casey Coombs