Middle East

World Food Programme to resume food aid in Yemen’s Sanaa

GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday it would resume the distribution of food to 850,000 people in Yemen’s capital Sanaa next week after a two-month stoppage, having reached an agreement the Iran-aligned Huthi authorities.

The UN agency halted some aid in Sanaa on June 20 out of concern that food was being diverted from vulnerable people, but said it would maintain nutrition programs for malnourished children, pregnant and nursing mothers.

The warring parties in Yemen’s conflict have both used access to aid and food as a political tool, exacerbating what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with high rates of severe malnutrition among children.

In a statement issued on Friday, the WFP said it would resume food distributions following Eid al Adha which ends on August 13. Spokesman Herve Verhoosel said a biometric registration process would be introduced for 9 million people living in areas under Houthi control.

“WFP is confident that putting in place biometrics will ensure food gets to the most deserving people and that diversion of vital food assistance is prevented,” it said.

A technical annex to a preliminary agreement reached last week was signed on Thursday, Verhoosel told a briefing.

“The technical annex will allow WFP to establish an independent and accountable process to identify and register families who most need life-saving assistance,” he said.

The biometric 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.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Kirsten Donovan

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