Yemen is facing the specter of famine over the years of the war that has been going on there for nearly seven years, and now the conditions of famine that the country did not witness in two years have returned to Yemen’s pockets, amid a recurring question: Where does the aid money go?
An estimated 47,000 people live with “catastrophic” levels of food insecurity – or famine-like conditions – according to an analysis conducted by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), the authority concerned with food security in the world. Or “emergency” conditions in terms of food security, and this equates to more than half of Yemen’s population.
Network CNN The American government published a report on the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Yemen that monitored the speed of deterioration of the situation as a result of the funding cuts that have affected the activities of agencies such as the World Food Program, which is now struggling to meet the basic needs of millions of Yemenis, especially in the north of the country.
Where does the aid money go?
In early March, the 2021 donors ’conference for Yemen managed to mobilize $ 1.7 billion to support the response plan to the humanitarian crisis. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, considered, upon the conclusion of the conference, that the amount pledged by the countries to be“ disappointing ”. He said in a speech during the conference: “Life has become unbearable for most people in Yemen now. Childhood there is a kind of hell in particular … as they are starving.”
The Yemeni government, which is supported by the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia, was looking for international relief and economic support to avoid the deterioration of the situation and multiply the humanitarian crisis, and Prime Minister Moein Abdul-Malik praised the support of Saudi Arabia, which topped the supporters with $ 430 million. While she saw Al Houthi group With the support of Iran, the humanitarian conferences in Yemen help to “whiten the page” of the Saudi-led Arab coalition.
But far from Political debateQuestions about donor funds have returned to the fore again, as in mid-2019, Yemeni activists launched a media and electronic campaign on social media platforms and various media outlets, under the hashtag “#Where_Flous” (Where is the money?), And the campaign has enjoyed wide and continuous resonance to this day. According to a report by Anadolu Agency.
The aim of the campaign is to know the fate of international aid to Yemen during the years of war, and to demand the implementation of a transparent mechanism for the delivery of aid, and they say that food does not reach the hungry, while aid money is seeping into a black hole. $ 2.7 billion received by these organizations from donors since 2018.
Although they criticized the Yemeni government, which appears powerless according to their point of view, they poured out their anger on the Houthi group, who said that most of these sums go to support their militias, directly or indirectly, and in 2019, an investigation by the Associated Press accused the United Nations and its agencies operating in Yemen, with the corruption of its institutions in Yemen.
The agency revealed details of some aspects of the investigations by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, including accusations of unqualified employment, the use of international transport vehicles to protect Houthi leaders, and employees’ access to huge funds from relief allocations. The World Food Organization faced corruption charges at the time by Yemeni activists and human rights activists, after it posted a tweet on its account on October 19, 2018, in which it stated that the cost of a plate of beans provided by the organization amounted to $ 62.
Decline in financial support and worsening humanitarian conditions
The Yemeni economic expert, Mustafa Nasr, told Anadolu Agency that the total collected in this year’s donors ’conference shows that the curve of international support for the humanitarian situation in Yemen is declining year after year. Nasr, who is the head of the Economic Media Center, believes that if compared to support in previous years, there is a decline, albeit not great.
He attributed the retreat to the decline in international interest in the humanitarian situation in Yemen, due to the length of the war, in addition to the repercussions of the Corona virus and its impact on the world, and the response to allocating resources for humanitarian situations in the world as a whole, and Nasr affirms that the gap in humanitarian need in Yemen is very large, and it is escalating with the continuation of the war, However, the donated funds will meet part of the need, but the gap remains large.
He said that the danger is that a small part of this aid reaches the needy, while 50% of it goes in the form of operational, administrative and logistical expenses, adding: “In all cases, donor support for Yemen and the humanitarian response plan is an important step, and Yemen needs it in light of the difficult humanitarian situation. But it is important that their results be evaluated. “
The role of the Saudi blockade
The causes of the deterioration of the humanitarian situation are not limited to the “black hole” that swallows up most of the donors’ money, as the fuel crisis has also worsened. Staff at Abs Hospital, where 12 children lose their lives every month, told CNN that they will be forced to close in less than three Weeks if they do not receive more funding and fuel to keep their generators running, and the story is repeated all over the North.
Fuel usually comes to the north of the country via the port of Hodeidah, and it is usually crowded with economic activity at the best of times, and even during the ongoing civil war in Yemen, the port has been a vital gateway to the conflict economy, with food and other aid that Yemenis depend on.
But the port is now More like a ghost townHundreds of food aid trucks parked in a line stretching for miles along a dirt road, and a Kifahi tank used to store about 2,500 metric tons of oil, but now it is empty and echoes echo through it.
The Houthis’ claim that Saudi warships have not allowed any oil tanker to dock in Hodeidah since the beginning of the year, which is confirmed by the World Food Program, and what is actually happening is the North starving of much-needed fuel. Since 2015, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has militarily supported the internationally recognized Yemeni government, which is now operating in exile from Riyadh.
Saudi ships that patrol the waters of Hudaydah control the merchant ships that can dock and unload. Some goods pass, but no fuel is allowed. CNN obtained documents from the port’s arrival register showing that 14 ships had been evacuated by the United Nations Verification and Inspection Authority to transport fuel to the country, and the tracking website MarineTraffic.com shows that these ships are now siting in the Red Sea between the Saudi-Yemeni border and Eritrea, but Able to empty its fuel.
The United Nations has previously accused the Houthis of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel taxes earmarked for paying civil servants’ salaries, however, the United Nations has reiterated that agencies still need to work in the north, where the work is most needed.
Houthi officials told CNN that they have been fined millions of dollars by companies that own the ships while they are able to dock. Nearly three years ago, the United Nations Security Council criminalized “deliberate starvation of civilians as a method of warfare” and demanded that “access to supplies necessary to prepare food, including fuel and water, be maintained” in northern Yemen.
The Saudi government did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on the new fuel ban and another question about whether the fuel embargo could be a means of war. The World Health Organization, which provides critical funding for hospitals and clinics, says it has been left with no funding at all to secure the fuel to carry out its services across Yemen.
“As of March 2021, WHO will have to stop distributing fuel to 206 facilities across the country, and more than 60% of hospitals that provide services are not available at the already fragile initial level,” she said in a document seen by CNN. “This will lead to the suspension of life-saving services, such as emergency rooms and intensive care units, including intensive care units for Covid-19 patients. 9 million people will be affected by this.”
The Saudi-backed Yemeni government has repeatedly refused CNN visas to enter northern Yemen after covering last year, which revealed the significant decline in Saudi humanitarian funding for the war. CNN reporters traveled by boat from East Africa to reach the Houthi-controlled north, where the Saudi blockade has contributed to widespread suffering and enormous challenges to food security.