The Houthi rebels of Yemen today rejected the accusations of the World Food Program (WFP), which yesterday denounced the sale and diversion of humanitarian aid distributed by this UN agency in the Yemeni capital and in other areas of the country controlled by the insurgent movement.
The president of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee of the Houthis, Mohamed Ali Al Huti, today condemned WFP's threats to suspend aid in areas administered by the rebels and called them "an attempt to avoid responsibility the famine in Yemen. "
WFP Executive Director David Beasley yesterday asked the Houthi authorities in Sana'a to "take immediate action to end the diversion of food assistance and ensure that it reaches the people who depend on it to survive", otherwise the organism "will have no other option but to suspend its work".
Al Huti considered that these words deviate from the WFP mission and only seek to "defame" and "serve the agenda of countries of aggression," as the rebels call the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia that intervenes in the conflict in favor of the government side.
The rebel leader recalled that the authorities in Sanaa had agreed with the WFP to deliver cash instead of food and warned the program that it must comply with the agreement.
The UN agency said it has discovered that part of the aid is being sold on the free market in the Yemeni capital and that at least one local organization that collaborates with the WFP for the distribution of assistance has committed this "fraud".
The organization, which was not cited, is affiliated with the Ministry of Education of the Houthis in Sana'a, the report added.
In addition, WFP has found evidence that food was taken by trucks from designated distribution centers; of the manipulation of the lists of beneficiaries of the aid and the records of their distribution by local officials; and that part of it ended up in the hands of those who did not need it or for sale.
"This behavior is a theft of food from the mouths of the hungry, at a time when children are dying in Yemen because they do not have enough food, this is outrageous, this criminal behavior must stop immediately," Beasley said.
WFP said it is trying to improve the entire assistance system, introducing more controls and reforming the beneficiary selection process to ensure that "food reaches those most in need," but that the Houthi authorities have resisted these changes in the areas controlled by them, according to the report.
The program recalled that 12 million Yemenis suffer severe hunger and this figure could reach 20 million if they do not receive food assistance.