Top Stories UN official: The Houthis have established a predatory regime and continue to manipulate the currency, loot merchants, and obstruct aid

UN official: The Houthis have established a predatory regime and continue to manipulate the currency, loot merchants, and obstruct aid

The former United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Lisa Grande, said that the Houthis have established a harmful and predatory regime, and they continue to manipulate the currency, loot the private sector and obstruct UN aid.

This came in testimony presented by Grandi, before a subcommittee on foreign relations in the US Senate and the Counter-Terrorism Committee, about the situation in Yemen.

Grandi, who resided in Sanaa and ran the United Nations organizations in Yemen, from March 2018 until December 2020, said that the Houthis systematically took control of the areas they administered and changed them, and that oversight and control of state institutions are now completely in their hands and parallel institutions have been established. Exclusively by the Houthis.

“Almost all public revenues are now being transferred directly to the institutions under the movement’s control, including the central bank branch in Sanaa. The movement has also introduced mechanisms for developing and implementing district and governorate budgets,” she added.

“The Houthis have usurped zakat, a basic pillar of social protection, and made it a compulsory tax, and imposed strict tariffs on agriculture and trade,” she added.

She explained that the new structures and mechanisms established by the Houthis are not an improvement on the old system. Rather, it is a harmful (predatory) regime, and they operate without public accountability, and they form a separate power system with broad powers.

The former United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator confirmed that the Houthis use these tools to transfer revenues from public goods and services to their fighters, sabotage private sector companies that do not cooperate with them, and manipulate currency and liquidity for their own interests, not the interests of the general public.

She indicated that the Houthi militia had effectively imposed hundreds of restrictions on humanitarian aid, seeking to control the type and flow of materials and targeting all forms of assistance. Humanitarian workers continued to be threatened, bullied, intimidated, and detained.

“The Yemeni government, local authorities, and other political groups also impose restrictions on aid at times. All restrictions imposed on the delivery of humanitarian aid are violations of humanitarian principles and are therefore unacceptable. However, the intensity, intent and impact of those imposed by the Houthis are of different magnitude.”

“The Houthis’ arbitrary exercise of power and their reliance on repressive administrative mechanisms and systems have combined to create one of the world’s most toxic and impermissible work environments for humanitarian workers,” Grandi said.

“The humanitarian crisis in particular is extremely horrific in terms of its scale, and it is difficult even to describe it, as more than 20 million Yemenis depend on humanitarian assistance and protection to survive. Twelve million Yemenis suffer from the most acute, painful and threatening forms of need,” she said. They are either hungry, sick, homeless, thirsty, unable to send their children to school, without means to earn a living, or all of the above.

She added that 16 million people, more than half of the country, suffer from hunger. They wake up every morning and have no idea when or if they will eat that day. Two million Yemeni children and a million pregnant and breastfeeding women are already suffering from lack of nutrition, food, or both. If nothing is done now, up to 400,000 children could starve this year.


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