Mike Pompeo to mount pressure on UN to cut back on Yemen aid

The US secretary of state is expected to meet UN chief Antonio Guterres on Friday

epa08265642 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, USA, 02 March 2020. AIPAC is an American pro-Israel lobby group.  EPA/ERIK S. LESSER
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is mounting pressure on the United Nations to cut back on aid to Yemen as Houthi rebels assert control over how humanitarian assistance is distributed in the northern parts of the war-torn country.

Mr Pompeo is due to travel to the UN's headquarters in New York on Friday to meet UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, where he will raise concerns over what he sees as the UN's slow effort to freeze aid deliveries, Foreign Policy reported, citing diplomatic sources.

He is expected to appeal mainly to the UN's relief coordinator, Mark Lowcock from Britain, who has resisted US appeals to suspend more relief programmes in Yemen, the publication reported.

The appeal to reduce aid comes as the Iran-backed rebels attempt to sabotage the delivery of provisions in parts of northern Yemen.

Much of the aid is sold by rebels on the black market instead of being delivered to the people that need it.

Countries that donate aid, including the United States, as well as UN officials and NGOs have been angered by the Houthis attempt to use aid to gain more control over parts of Yemen.

The US gave the rebels until the end of the month to relinquish control over UN aid.

In response, the Houthis reversed their plan to impose a 2 per cent tax on all aid but many are sceptical they will not give up control.

Aid agency USAID said it would stop working in some Houthi-controlled parts of the country unless the rebels stop interfering with aid distribution.

Hundreds of families in the war-torn areas of northern Yemen's Al Jawf province have been trapped after the rebels seized a city, and aid agencies have struggled to reach them after the main route linking Al Jawf, Marib and Sanaa was cut off.

Yemen's internationally recognised government has been at war with the Houthis since 2014 when they captured the capital Sanaa and large areas of the impoverished Arab state.

The government has been backed by a Saudi-led military coalition since 2015.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is in Saudi Arabia this week, where he will discuss threats to suspend aid to Yemen and Houthi rebel advances.