UN concerned about consequences of US' Houthi designation

1/19/2021

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 The UN has continued to express concerns over the consequences of the US designation of the Houthi militia in Yemen as a terrorist organisation, a spokesman said here.

"In Yemen, the UN continues to be deeply concerned that the Us Foreign Terrorist Organization designation of the Houthis will push Yemen into a large-scale famine. Given the dangerous situation right now with the risk of famine, the policy should be reversed," Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said on Monday.

Details on planned licenses for aid agencies have not been published yet, although the designation is to take force on Tuesday, reports Xinhua news agency.

Given this uncertainty, the UN is expecting major disruptions to the world's largest aid operation just as famine starts to take hold in the country, Dujarric said.

Even if licenses come through for aid agencies, these will not address the main problem, which relates to commercial imports, noted the spokesman.

Nearly all of Yemen's food, medicine, fuel and everything else is brought in by commercial importers.

The long-standing UN Security Council position is that commercial imports to Yemen must be protected and must continue to flow through all ports in the country, he noted.

The UN will also have to review the potential consequences of the US designation for the Safer tanker mission, he said, referring to the planned UN mission to inspect and repair the derelict oil tanker moored at a seaport controlled by the Houthi.

The world organisation has been saying for months that the floating oil storage vessel was in imminent danger of leaking some or all of the more than 1 million barrels of oil on board.

Dujarric expressed hope that the US decision will be reversed as soon as possible, given that President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in on Wednesday.

On January 11, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US will designate Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels as a foreign terrorist organisation.

According to figures released by the UN in December 2020, more than 230,000 Yemenis have died in the six-year-old war, mostly because of a lack of food, health services and infrastructure.

The Houthi militia has intensified attacks on the Yemeni government-held cities in the past year that killed and injured hundreds of people, according to the government of the war-torn country.

Yemen has been mired in civil war since late 2014, when the Houthi rebels seized control of northern provinces and forced the internationally-recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of the capital Sanaa.

The Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened in the Yemeni conflict in 2015 to support Hadi's government.

Source: IANS

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