Food aid meant for starving Yemenis is being stolen and sold in some areas controlled by the Houthi movement, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said today.
The Houthis control most towns and cities including the capital Sanaa, from where they ousted Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s government in 2014. A Saudi-led coalition intervened against the Houthis in 2015 with the aim of restoring his government.
After hearing that humanitarian food was being sold on the open market in Sanaa, WFP said it found many people had not received the food rations to which they are entitled, and that at least one local partner organisation affiliated with the Houthi Ministry of Education was committing fraud.
This conduct amounts to the stealing of food from the mouths of hungry people, at a time when children are dying in Yemen because they haven’t enough food to eat, that is an outrage. This criminal behaviour must stop immediately
WFP Executive Director David Beasley said.
Houthi officials contacted by Reuters did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Yemen’s war and the ensuing economic collapse have left 15.9 million people, 53 per cent of the population, facing “severe acute food insecurity” and famine was a danger if immediate action was not taken, a survey said this month.
WFP is trying to get food aid to as many as 12 million severely hungry people.
“It was discovered that some food relief is being given to people not entitled to it and some is being sold for gain in the markets of the capital,” a WFP statement said.