On Tuesday, the head of the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to appeal to the administration to reconsider its decision to designate Yemen’s Houthis as a terror group. Sources told The Washington Post that the designation could come as early as this week.
WFP chief David Beasley said he expressed his “grave concerns” to Pompeo about the potential impact the designation could have on civilians who are reliant on aid to survive. About 70 percent of Yemen’s population lives in Houthi-controlled areas. If the Houthis are added to the US terror list, it will hobble the international charities that deliver aid to those areas.
The US is also considering halting a $700 million aid program for Yemen. Earlier this year, the US made significant cuts to aid going into Houthi-controlled areas. Due to the US-backed Saudi-led siege on Yemen that has been ongoing since 2015, Yemenis are facing severe food shortages, malnutrition, and widespread disease.
While the UN has not officially declared famine in Yemen, people have been starving to death in the country for years. In 2018, Save the Children published a report that said as many as 85,000 children under the age of five died of starvation in Yemen between April 2015 and October 2018.
This week, the UN said at least 233,000 people have died due to the war in Yemen and the conditions caused by it. The Saudi-led coalition regularly bombs civilian infrastructure and has been accused of intentionally starving the population as a tactic to defeat the Houthis. Despite all this, the US continues to support the coalition.