Labelling the Houthis terrorists will deepen the famine in Yemen

A blind Yemenis child carries a dove in a protest against an attack in the capital A blind Yemenis child carries a dove in a protest against an attack in the capital A. Mojalli/VOA

14 January 2021

Former President's salute to Yemen could generate one of the biggest famines in over 40 years

Five years after the beginning of the conflict between the Saudi-backed government and the Houthi in the west, the Trump administration, in one of its final acts, inserted the latter on the list of "Foreign Terrorist Organisations" (FTO) to add pressure on Iran and its allies. 70% of the Yemeni population lives under the Houthis and this move is likely to trigger an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in a country where more than 50,000 people are already living in famine, causing thousands of civilian victims. 

Being labeled as an FTO implies that sanctions are introduced against 'collaborators' as well. The US will introduce licenses for specific organizations and necessities, but while the isolation could radicalize and facilitate recruitment for the Houthis, the few importers and banks have an increasing incentive to leave the country. The humanitarian system cannot, however, replace all imports in a region which is more than 80% dependent on them. The United Nations’ humanitarian chief and the World Food Programme (WFP) predict one of the biggest famines in the last 40 years with millions of people affected.

The decision has been challenged by both US parties, civil society (with the International Committee of the Red Cross calling it an act of "pure diplomatic vandalism") and the United Nations urging the US and the Security Council to withdraw and condemn the decision. Biden's inauguration should lead to a suspension of Saudi support, but immediate action is required and the damage to the peace process must be healed.


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Author: Matteo Consiglio; Editor: Margherita Curti

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