UN food chief denounces Houthi manipulation of Yemen food aid

David Beasley

UNITED NATIONS — United Nations food chief David Beasley warned on Monday that a phased-suspension of food assistance in Yemen was likely to begin later this week over a diversion of aid and lack of independence in Houthi-controlled areas.

Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP), called on the Iranian-backed Houthi militia to "simply let us do our job."

"If we do not receive these assurances then we will begin a phased suspension of food assistance, most likely toward the end of this week. If and when we do initiate suspension we will continue our nutrition program for malnourished children, pregnant women and new mothers," he told the UN Security Council.

Beasley said WFP had been unable to implement agreements with the Houthis on the registration of people in need and the rollout of a biometric system — using iris scanning, fingerprints or facial recognition — to support aid delivery. "We are now assisting feeding over 10 million people per month but as the head of the World Food Programme I cannot assure you that all the assistance is going to those who need it most," Beasley said.

"Why? Because we are not allowed to operate independently and because aid is being diverted for profit and or other purposes," he told the 15-member council.

Earlier this month Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, head of the Houthis' Supreme Revolutionary Committee, said the WFP insisted on controlling the biometric data in violation of Yemeni law. — Reuters