The United Nations criticized the United States’ plan to designate Yemen’s Houthi movement a foreign terrorist organization, saying it is “likely to have serious humanitarian and political repercussions.”
Set to go into effect on January 19, a day ahead of the inauguration of US President-elect Joe Biden, the plan could stop international aid from reaching the impoverished, civil war-torn country teetering on famine, according to critics. UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said the US should “swiftly grant the necessary licenses and exemptions to ensure humanitarian assistance can continue to reach all people … without disruption.”
Outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reported that the US will issue licenses to groups providing humanitarian aid, yet aid groups expect the rules may make it more difficult for them to raise funds and deliver aid.
The Iran-backed Houthis govern close to 70% of Yemen, including the capital city of Sana’a. Aid groups working in Yemen are required to work within the Houthi infrastructure – including financial institutions – to provide assistance. A vast majority of Yemen’s 30 million citizens require humanitarian and food assistance as a result of the civil war.