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UN says food aid being stolen in Yemen's Houthi-controlled areas

The World Food Programme says it has evidence of

Date of publication: 1 January, 2019

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The UN's food assistance branch says its monitors have gathered evidence of theft of vital food aid and fraud committed by Houthi administrators.
Vital food aid intended to be delivered to starving Yemenis is being stolen and sold in areas run by the country's Houthi rebels, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said on Monday.

The WFP said it had been made aware that aid supplies were being sold in the country's Houthi-controlled capital of Sanaa, while many of the aid's intended recipients had reported not receiving their entitlement. The UN's food assistance branch also said it had received reports 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," WFP Executive Director David Beasley was quoted by Reuters as saying. "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."

The WFP said its monitors have gathered evidence, including images, of food being illicitly removed from aid distribution centres, as well as proof that local officials are falsifying records and manipulating the selection of beneficiaries.

"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," the WFP statement said.

The UN body has contacted the Houthis and urged that food aid reach those in need.

The Yemen conflict has triggered what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with 14 million Yemenis now at the brink of mass starvation.

WFP spokesman Herve Verhooselhas said that the UN body is considering the possibility of distributing cash to those in need of aid with the use of a biometric identification system.

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