• Sunday, Nov 27, 2022
  • Last Update : 09:24 am

Fearing famine, UN calls on US to reverse Houthi terrorists label

  • Published at 04:00 pm January 15th, 2021
File photo: A worker carries a sack of wheat flour at a WFP food aid distribution center in Sanaa, Yemen on February 11, 2020 Reuters

The designation is set to come into force on January 19 -- the eve of the inauguration of Biden

The United States must cancel its decision to classify Yemen's Houthi rebels as "terrorists" to avoid a catastrophic famine, several United Nations officials told the Security Council.

The terrorist classification has drawn criticism from aid groups, the European Union and many others over fears it will exacerbate the already dire humanitarian crisis in war-ravaged Yemen.

"What is the likely humanitarian impact? The answer is a large-scale famine on a scale that we have not seen for nearly 40 years," said Mark Lowcock, the UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs.

He said exemptions to allow aid agencies to deliver supplies, as suggested by Washington, would not be sufficient to avoid a famine, adding "what would prevent it? A reversal of the decision."

Outgoing US President Donald Trump's administration announced the last-ditch move on Sunday with just days to go before his successor Joe Biden takes over.

The designation is set to come into force on January 19 -- the eve of the inauguration of Biden, whose aides had hoped to mount a fresh push to end Yemen's six-year war.

It is also seen as complicating the incoming US leader's promised efforts to restart diplomacy with Iran, which has links to the Houthis.

The rebels control much of Yemen and have faced a bloody offensive from US ally Saudi Arabia, with millions in the country depending on aid to survive.

Designation as a terrorist group is expected to halt many transactions with Houthi authorities, including bank transfers, paying medical personnel and for food and fuel, due to fears of US prosecution.

'A death sentence'

Aid groups have said that they have no option but to deal with what is the de facto government in northern Yemen. 

The UN envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, said he backed Lowcock's stance that the US decision "would contribute to famine in Yemen and thus should be revoked."

"We fear that there will be inevitably a chilling effect on my efforts to bring the parties together," added Griffiths, who has regular contact with the Houthis.

It was the first time that the UN, usually cautious with its largest financial contributor, has so clearly criticized the outgoing US administration.

About 16 million people will go hungry this year in Yemen, the UN predicts.

David Beasley, head of the World Food Program, discarded his prepared speech to warn of a "catastrophic" famine.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres "of course" supports the calls for the United States to withdraw its decision, his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said during his daily press briefing.

But Saudi Arabia this week welcomed the US move, saying it was "in line with the legitimate Yemen government's calls to put an end to the activities of the militia supported by Iran."

Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Richard Mills pointed out that the US was the largest humanitarian aid donor, and he offered assurances that exemptions would limit the impact of the American decision.

Lowcock made an urgent appeal for donations, saying "in 2020, we received $1.7 billion for the UN response plan. About half of what we needed. And less than half of what we got the year before."

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail