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Saudi Arabia and UAE accused of exploiting aid to prolong war in Yemen

March 20, 2020 at 11:57 am

Yemeni’s step on the face of Crown Prince of UAE Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan in protest against UAE’s involvement in the war on Yemen on 27 May 2018 [Elisabeth Kendall/Twitter]

The Sana’a Centre for Strategic Studies has alleged that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are using international relief agencies as tools to prolong the war in Yemen. It made the allegation in its monthly report issued on Thursday.

The Centre accused Saudi Arabia and the UAE of exploiting their position as the largest contributors to the humanitarian relief efforts in Yemen by claiming that they are saving Yemeni lives, while simultaneously taking lives and destroying the country’s economy and infrastructure. According to the report, the provision of relief to the Yemenis has allowed Saudi Arabia and the UAE a route in so that they can continue to feed the conflict in search of their desired goals.

Furthermore, the report also explained that the Houthi group has corralled UN agencies and international organisations tightly and turned relief efforts amounting to around $4 billion in 2019 into a major source of income for the movement. It pointed out that international agencies and organisations have put aid principles to one side in order to secure access to the needy.

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“In doing so, however, these humanitarian actors have reluctantly been providing hefty subsidies for Houthi operations,” the report said, “which include weaponising starvation, recruiting child soldiers, planting millions of landmines in civilian areas, sexual violence and mass campaigns of arrest and torture.”

The report quoted humanitarian workers as saying that, as soon as aid reaches Houthi-controlled areas, the group dictates its terms on how to store and transport it, where and when this will happen, and to whom it is distributed.

“Houthi forces have used their control over access to aid, or the threat of its denial, as a means to recruit soldiers from hungry communities in Yemen, to reward support or punish dissent in northern areas, and for cash income through selling the aid supplies on the market,” the Centre added.