UN warns of aid repercussions as US labels Huthis ‘terrorists’
UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations warned Monday (11) of “serious” effects on international assistance to war-ravaged Yemen after the United States declared that the country’s Huthi rebels were “terrorists.”
“The decision is likely to have serious humanitarian and political repercussions,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Yemen imports nearly all its food after six years of war, with the Huthis effectively in control of much of the country including the capital Sanaa as they face an offensive by Saudi Arabia.
“We are concerned that the designation will negatively impact, including through possible ‘over compliance’ by commercial actors, imports of food and other essential commodities just as more Yemenis are starving,” Dujarric said.
He also described the move by outgoing President Donald Trump’s administration as a blow to the political process as it may “polarize even more the positions of the parties to the conflict.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo late Sunday announced the designation that will take effect on January 19 – one day before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in.
Pompeo noted the rebels’ links with US arch-enemy Iran and pointed to an attack on the Aden airport on December 30 that the Saudi-backed government blamed on the Huthis.
Pompeo said that the United States was aware of concerns by humanitarian workers and would make exemptions to the sanctions.
But the United Nations warned that the humanitarian operation would be set back without commercial outlets to Huthi-controlled areas.
“The growing risk of famine in Yemen underlines the imperative for the US to swiftly grant the necessary licenses and exemptions to ensure that principled humanitarian assistance can continue to reach all people who need it across the country without disruption,” Dujarric said.
– Agence France-Presse