UN suspends crucial cash aid to 9 million Yemenis

Published on Wednesday, 3 October 2018 20:37
Written by The Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) - The U.N. children’s agency on Wednesday suspended cash transfers to 9 million of Yemen’s most impoverished citizens under pressure from Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

The move comes at a time when Yemen’s local currency has been deteriorating, increasing prices of food and fuel, and sparking fears of a worsening humanitarian crisis.

UNICEF said the decision came after it was unable to set up a call center to get feedback from beneficiaries, without providing further details.

Two individuals familiar with the program said the Houthi rebels who control northern Yemen hindered the launch of the call center because they feared it might reveal their manipulation of the cash transfers. The two spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals from the rebels.

The Iran-aligned Houthis have been at war with a Saudi-led coalition since March 2015. The rebels have repeatedly been accused of diverting aid to their supporters.

Last week, Houthi security authorities banned the country director of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency from returning to Yemen, according to two individuals familiar with the situation.

The agency has been under pressure from Houthis to use the rebels’ beneficiary lists in aid distribution and to use Houthi-linked staffers in ADRA-run health facilities. When ADRA chief Ephraim Palmero objected, he was notified that he wouldn’t be allowed to return to the country, the individuals said.

ADRA is among the most active international relief agencies working in delivering aid to millions of impoverished Yemenis.

The suspended UNICEF payment is the third since the project was launched in August 2017. UNICEF has said the cash transfers are a “lifeline” to a third of Yemen’s people and “contribute to avert the risk of famine and allowed targeted families to buy food and medicine.”

Posted in New Britain Herald, Nation-World on Wednesday, 3 October 2018 20:37. Updated: Wednesday, 3 October 2018 20:39.