WFP accuses Houthis of diverting relief supplies to non-beneficiaries

GENEVA, 4th January, 2019 (WAM) -- The World Food Programme, WFP, has accused the Houthis of diverting relief supplies to non-beneficiaries, calling for the investigation and dismissing of those involved.

In a statement, Herve Verhoosel, WFP spokesman in Geneva, said, "So far, our monitoring has identified seven centres in Sana’a city and we estimate that about 1,200 metric tonnes (600 MT/month) of food was diverted in August and September. But to put this into context, 600 metric tonnes is only about one per cent of the food we provide on a monthly basis nationally."

He added, "It is our monitoring systems that detected there was a problem. We are committed to ensuring our food assistance reaches those who most need it."

The UN official went on to say, "About three months ago when we witnessed food being sold in bulk on Yemeni markets (i.e. oil in cartons of 6 and pulses in bags of 50 kg whereas oil is normally distributed as a can and pulses in plastic bags of 10 kg), we suspected that food was being diverted by a partner organisation from distribution points. We immediately identified the location to which the food was being moved. We tracked and monitored suspected locations (about seven distribution centres in Sana’a city).

The local partner organisation that has apparently been involved in this abuse has the capacity to provide food relief to millions of beneficiaries. "Currently, they help us reach up to 3 million people with food assistance so what is needed is for the authorities to investigate and sack those responsible for this corruption," Verhoosel said.

"We have been proactively monitoring the markets for the presence of WFP food on sale there. Through our beneficiary contacts and monitoring of distributions, we know that many extremely poor people sell part of their ration to meet other needs (education, medicines, rent) because for many the only aid they receive is WFP’s food rations.

"The legitimate Government of Yemen has given WFP permission to undertake the biometric registration of beneficiaries. Recently, in Aden biometric registration enabled us to weed out people who are not entitled to food assistance," he concluded.

WAM/Hazem Hussein

WAM/MOHD AAMIR