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WHO hints of suspending food delivery in Houthi-controlled areas

ROME, May 20 (KUNA) -- UN World Food Program (WFP) hinted Monday of suspending food delivery in areas controlled by Houthis, which it said were hampering its humanitarian operations.
WHO, noting that millions of hungry Yemeni people were threatened by potential famine, said its operational independence, impartiality and neutrality were paramount if "we are to succeed and we need immediate and unrestrained access to the hungry so that we can reach those who need us most." It said unrelenting fighting and security were main challenges to its humanitarian mandate. However, "our greatest challenge does not come from the guns ... it is the obstructive and uncooperative role of some of the Houthi leaders in areas under their control." Humanitarian workers in Yemen are being denied access to the hungry, aid convoys have been blocked, and local authorities have interfered with food distribution, and most importantly, there have been repeated obstacles placed in the way of our independent selection of beneficiaries and a request for a roll out of a biometric registration system, it said.
These obstacles have already blocked food delivery to around 12 million of the most vulnerable people, nearly half of the Yemeni population, at a cost to the international community around USD 175 million a month.
"If we are not give n the access and freedom to decide who gets this vital assistance, then we will have to take the hard decision of implementing a phased suspension of our operations in Houthi controlled areas," said WHO. (end) mn.bs