Dubai: Yemen’s Minister of Information, Muammar Al Iryani, has commended the World Food Programme (WFP)’s reaction to Al Houthi militia’s manipulation of food aid.

In statement to the Yemeni News Agency, Al Iryani said, “The WFP’s account indicates that the Al Houthi militia is deliberately exacerbating humanitarian crisis, causing people in its controlled regions to suffer starvation in order to capitalise on their torment to gain politically and militarily.”

The Yemeni minister added, “Al Houthi militia has intentionally aimed to deprive millions of Yemenis their salaries, livelihood income sources and humanitarian aid to further increase their suffering so that they have no other choice but to go fighting alongside the coup militia.”

Al Iranyni said that the coup militia has created pro-Al Houthi local organisations, some of which are sectarian-oriented, to receive humanitarian aid, re-direct and distribute them to the coup militia’s and their supporters. As a result, he explained, large quantities of humanitarian aid was used to promote Al Houthi sectarian agenda, hence prolonging the conflict instead of alleviating the humanitarian crisis.

Yemen rebels accuse UN of taking sides after aid ultimatum

The World Food Programme on Monday threatened to suspend some aid shipments to Yemen if the rebels did not investigate and stop theft and fraud in food distribution, warning that the suspension would affect some 3 million people.

The World Food Programme’s ultimatum was an unprecedentedly strong warning, pointing to how corruption has increased the threat of famine in Yemen, where the war has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

In a letter sent to rebel leader Abdul Malek Al Houthi, WFP director David Beasley said that a survey done by the agency showed that aid is only reaching 40 per cent of eligible beneficiaries in the rebel-held capital, Sana’a.

Only a third are receiving aid in the rebels’ northern stronghold of Saada.

“If you don’t act within 10 days, WFP will have no choice but to suspend the assistance ... that goes to nearly 3 million people,” the letter said. “This criminal behaviour must stop immediately.”

The WFP said it obtained photographic evidence showing rebels seizing food and manipulating lists of aid recipients.

The UN agency helps about 8 million hungry people in Yemen and has been working to increase its scope to reach a total of 12 million. It wants an overhaul of the relief system, including biometric registration, but says the rebels resist such measures.