Yemen's war is being fuelled by economic profiteering: UN

Yemen's war is being fuelled by economic profiteering: UN
3 min read
In Yemen, the diverse actors involved in the war are benefitting financially from the situation, while the population dies of hunger
United Nations expert have said that economic profiteering is fueling the catastrophe in Yemen, where a six-year war  involving attacks on civilians, forced disappearances and other violations of human rights show no signs of abating.

The report, which was examined by AP, describes the deteriorating situation in Yemen.

The panel concluded that both the Yemen government and Houthi rebels "appear to be indifferent" to the devastating impact fighting is having on the people, with both parties continuing to divert the country's scant economic and financial resources towards their war efforts.

Among the abuses highlighted in the report, it is estimated that in 2019, Houthi rebels diverted at least $1.8 billion that was supposed to go towards public sector salaries and basic services for citizens.

It's also said that the government implemented a scheme to illegally funnel $423 million of Saudi money meant to buy rice and other commodities for the Yemeni people.

The origins of Yemen's war go back to 2011, when the political transition between authoritarian President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his deputy Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi failed following an Arab spring uprising.

A Houthi takeover of the capital in 2014 led to a Saudi-led intervention in March 2015 in support of the government, which greatly intensified the war.

The Yemeni population is now facing the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to international assistance and human rights organisations.

According to the United Nations, 80 percent of the country's population, over 24 million people, required some form of humanitarian assistance and protection, including more than 12 million children, back in 2020. Over 112,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

Read also: Three big lessons from Yemen's five years of war

Despite the seriousness of the situation, the panel found that the population is being denied the food and care it should have access to.

Taxes are being collected, but "a large portion of which is used to fund their war effort", the experts said.

"The government of Yemen is, in some cases, engaging in money-laundering and corruption practices that adversely affect access to adequate food supplies for Yemenis, in violation of the right to food," the report states.

"In the $423 million scheme that illegally transferred public money to traders, 48 percent was received by a single holding corporation, the Hayel Saeed Anam Group."

On a political level, the panel said that there is "an increasing body of evidence suggesting that individuals and entities" in Iran supply "significant volumes of weapons and components to the Houthis".

Meanwhile, they also discovered that the government lost strategic territory to both the Houthis and the Southern Transitional Council, a separatist group backed by the United Arab Emirates.

In December, the coalition announced a power-sharing government including southern separatists, in a bid to end a power struggle between the former allies.

Those disagreements and incoherences only seem to strengthen the Houthis, according to the experts.

In its recent World Report 2021, international organisation Human Rights Watch said that aid access was increasingly obstructed.

Researcher Afrah Nassar wrote in a statement that: "Years of violations have shown that parties to Yemen’s conflict have little incentive to halt their abuses without the real possibility of accountability […] Concerned governments should publicly endorse calls for international accountability measures."

Hours after this report reached the public, the hashtag #YemenCantWait began trending on Twitter, with numerous calls from individuals to pressure their government to stop the war in Yemen.

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