UN resumes Sanaa aid distribution halted after Houthi thefts

UN resumes Sanaa aid distribution halted after Houthi thefts

SANAA: The World Food Programme (WFP) on Wednesday resumed distributing food in Yemen's capital Sanaa after a two-month stoppage.

The halt in aid came after UN officials found the Houthis were diverting food away from those who desperately needed it. 

Dozens of people gathered at a distribution centre in Sanaa to be given flour, vegetable oil, pulses, salt and sugar.

"We are relieved. Thank God. All we can do is praise God," said one recipient, Um Ahmed.

Food distribution for 850,000 people had resumed after the WFP was allowed to "introduce the key accountability measures", its spokeswoman Annabel Symington told Reuters.

When the agreement with Houthi authorities was reached in early August, the WFP said a biometric registration process would be introduced for 9 million people living in areas under Houthi control.

The system - using iris scanning, fingerprints or facial recognition - is already used in areas controlled by the Saudi-backed government that holds the southern port city of Aden and some western coastal towns.

Meanwhile, the UN Wednesday warned that 22 "life-saving" aid programs will be forced to close in Yemen in the next two months if countries do not pay more than $1 billion in funding that they pledged earlier this year.

In February countries pledged $2.6 billion to help, but UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, said less than half that had been paid.

The UN said that of 34 key aid programs only three were funded for the year and 22 "life-saving" programs will need to close in the next two months.

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