UN to Urge US to Reverse Plan to Blacklist Yemen’s Ansarullah
UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said that he will urge Washington to reverse a plan to designate Yemen’s Ansarullah a foreign terrorist organization, warning the move would push the country into a “famine on a scale that we have not seen for nearly 40 years.”
In prepared remarks for a briefing of the UN Security Council, according to Reuters, Lowcock will tell the 15-member body that a US plan to issue licenses and exemptions to allow aid agencies to continue working will not prevent famine in Yemen, which relies almost solely on imports.
“What would prevent it? A reversal of the (US) decision,” Lowcock will say. “Aid agencies cannot – they simply cannot – replace the commercial import system.”
“The data show that 16 million people will go hungry this year. Already, about 50,000 people are essentially starving to death in what is essentially a small famine. Another 5 million are just one step behind them,” Lowcock will say.
While the United Nations and aid groups help about a third of Yemen’s 28 million people, Lowcock will stress commercial imports are key to ensuring millions more have access to food.
“Yemen imports 90% of its food. Nearly all that food is brought in through commercial channels. Aid agencies give people vouchers or cash to buy commercially imported food in the market,” Lowcock will say.
The United Nations describes Yemen as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with 80% of the people in need of aid.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the move against Ansarullah on Sunday. It will come into effect on Jan. 19, the last full day in office of President Donald Trump’s administration.
“Already, Yemenis are crowding into markets and shops to stockpile whatever they can afford. Families are terrified that no more food or other supplies will make it into the country,” Lowcock will say.
“The Yemeni companies who bring in most of the food are using words like ‘disaster’, ‘havoc’, and ‘unimaginable’ when they describe to us what they fear is coming,” he will say.