Creating new perspectives since 2009

Saudi, Houthis ‘stranglehold’ Yemen’s aid, says Amnesty

June 22, 2018 at 4:14 pm

Yemeni people carry the humanitarian aid distributed by UN in Taiz, Yemen on March 4, 2017 [Abdulnasser Alseddik/Anadolu Agency]

The Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi armed group in Yemen are hampering the delivery of aid to Yemen, a new briefing released by Amnesty International reveals today.

Amnesty International carried out research between December 2017 and June 2018, including interviewing 12 aid workers, eight medics and five local community activists in the capital Sana’a, the strategic port town of Hudaydah and besieged Taiz. It found that both the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi armed group are placing difficulties for aid organisation in delivering relief promptly in Yemen.

“Despite the coalition’s announcement on 22 November that it had lifted its blockade of ports, it has continued to restrict or severely delay commercial imports. Its misuse of the inspection regime under UN Security Council Resolution 2216 has led to excessive delays and unpredictability that have served to obstruct the delivery of essential goods and humanitarian aid,” the Amnesty briefing said.

“It has ignored the UN Security Council’s calls for the full and sustained opening of all Yemen’s ports, including Hudaydah and Saleef, and its statements about the importance of keeping these functioning and open to all commercial and humanitarian imports, including food, fuel and medical imports.”

Read: Human rights workers at risk in Yemen

Ships forced to wait 120 hours

Amnesty found that ships travelling to Yemen’s ports were forced by the Saudi-led coalition to wait on average for 120 hours in March and 74 hours in April. The Saudi-led coalition has been monitoring the Red Sea and Bab El-Mandeb since last year in a bid to intercept Iranian weapon transfers to the Houthis via Hudaydah port. There have been no empirical evidence of Iranian weapons transfers yet.

“The Houthi de facto authorities have hampered the delivery of humanitarian aid in the country. They have imposed excessive and arbitrary restrictions on the movement of staff and aid, in the context of a fragmented approach to administering permits authorising operations by humanitarian organisations.”

“The most difficult part was getting the aid out of the warehouse once it was in Yemen,” one aid worker told Amnesty. The Houthis are placing bureaucratic processes on aid organisation, delaying vital aid for Yemenis across the country.

Amnesty International discovered that some aid organisations were forced to pay their way through Yemen in bribery to the Houthis, which violates the armed group’s obligations under international humanitarian law.

The Saudi-led coalition was invited by the internationally recognised Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to neutralise threats posed by the Houthis in March 2015. Today, it continues to fight for the Hudaydah port in an operation codenamed “Golden Victory”. The UN has warned that the lives of 250,000 Yemenis will be devastated as a result of the military operation to recapture control of the vital waterway.

Read: UAE denies running torture prisons in Yemen