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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 6 March 2021

Yemen: UN and aid groups exempt from US Houthi terror designation

Relief groups said they feared the move would hinder the delivery of humanitarian aid

The US has exempted aid groups from its recent move to classify Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi movement as a terrorist organisation. Reuters
The US has exempted aid groups from its recent move to classify Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi movement as a terrorist organisation. Reuters

Aid and UN agencies operating in Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen are exempt from sanctions imposed on the rebels, the US said.

But relief groups said the decision to designate the movement as a foreign terrorist organisation would create a gap humanitarians would be unable to fill.

“Our concern from the beginning ... is the impact on the commercial sector and that the vast majority of food and other basic supplies that come into Yemen through the commercial sector,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the sanctions against the Iran-backed organisation last week and they took effect on Tuesday.

The decision would freeze any American-related assets of the Houthis and ban the US from doing business with them, making it a crime to provide support or resources to the group.

The designation includes exemption of exports to Yemen of agricultural commodities, a category that includes live animals, vitamins and minerals, bottled drinking water and raw, processed and packaged food.

“We would propose to review that immediately to make sure that what we are doing is not impeding the provision of humanitarian assistance,” Antony Blinken, Mr Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.

UN officials are trying to revive peace talks to end the war as economic collapse and Covid-19 deepen Yemen’s suffering.

Updated: January 20, 2021 07:08 PM

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