The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) welcomed the US decision to designate Yemen’s Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization, a move that has grave implications for Yemeni civilians facing severe food shortages.
According to Saudi Arabia’s Arab News, GCC Secretary-General Nayef Falah al-Hajraf said the designation was “a necessary step that is consistent with the demands of the Yemeni government.” Al-Hajraf, a Kuwaiti diplomat, said he hopes the designation will end the “terror acts” of the Houthis.
The GCC is made up of six Gulf Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, who has been leading a US-backed coalition in a war against the Houthis since March 2015. The US-backed Saudi-led war on Yemen has left most Yemenis food insecure and reliant on foreign aid to survive.
Due to the coalition’s frequent bombing of civilian infrastructure and the blockade on Yemen, about 80 percent of Yemen’s population is reliant on aid and, 13.5 million people face acute food insecurity. Because of this, aid organizations are warning that the US terror designation could severely hamper their work.
Approximately 70 percent of Yemen’s population lives in Houthi-controlled areas, where malnutrition is the most widespread. Aid groups fear the terror designation could criminalize their work since the Houthis are the authority they have to deal with. US terror designations pave the way for sanctions on anyone who does business with those Washington labels as terrorists.
While the UN has not officially declared famine, mass starvation in Yemen has been ongoing since the war started. 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.