US restarts aid to northern Yemen

US restarts aid to northern Yemen
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The U.S. has resumed sending humanitarian aid to northern Yemen, which is currently controlled by Houthi rebels, as a past blockade on assistance was helping exacerbate a humanitarian crisis in the area.

The restoration marks a reversal from a year-old decision by the Trump administration to stop sending aid to Houthi-controlled areas out of concern the rebels were seizing the goods for their own purposes.

“[J]ust today, the United States restored full humanitarian assistance funding to areas of northern Yemen to help meet the needs of vulnerable Yemenis,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Friday.

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“The United States supports the free flow of fuel, food, and other essential goods into Yemen. However, doing so requires not only that goods pass smoothly through ports, but also that they are allowed to pass through the country freely, including through areas under Houthi control.”

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) confirmed it is shifting its approach to work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to expand the delivery of aid to northern Yemen.

"We are shifting our approach to resume support for NGO programs with new operational parameters that ensure our partners can deliver assistance rapidly without interference. We are also adding new monitoring requirements to track interference and give us flexibility to adjust or terminate funding to specific activities or programs, as necessary," USAID told The Hill. "This new way forward reflects hard-won progress by the humanitarian community over the past year in collectively advocating with the Houthis to cease interference in aid operations." 

"The Houthis must abide by the commitments they have made and reduce any further obstruction. If our partners can not operate independently and assure us the assistance is getting to intended beneficiaries, we may be forced to end our support to some of the programs."

The resumption of aid comes amid fears that an already dire famine could become more serious. 

Yemen finds itself mired in one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern history as the country finds itself torn between the Houthi rebels, which control the north and are aided by Iran, and the internationally-backed government in the South.

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A Saudi-led coalition has waged a brutal war on the rebels, with critics saying its airstrikes have exacerbated the situation and killed countless civilians.

The Biden administration has sought diplomatic avenues to ease the human suffering in Yemen, though the situation there has not improved. President BidenJoe BidenBiden authorizes up to 0M for Afghan refugees Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Biden flexes presidential muscle on campaign trail with Virginia's McAuliffe MORE announced earlier this year that he was ending support for the Saudi offensive and lifting the Trump administration’s designation of the Houthi rebels as terrorists, a label that officials said interfered with the delivery of aid to wide swaths of the country.

Updated: 12:05 p.m.