WFP says Houthi leaders hindering biometric system in Yemen
07 June 2019 14:02 GMT

The World Food Program has said Houthi group in Yemen are hindering the start of biometric system to identify people most need aid in a country on the brink of famine, according to a media report.

"The continued blocking by some within the Houthi leadership of the biometric registration … is undermining an essential process that would allow us to independently verify that food is reaching ... people on the brink of famine," WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said, reported Debriefer.

Sources familiar with the discussions said Houthi leaders asked the agency to stop the registration process in early April after realizing the new system bypasses Sana'a supervision, according to Reuters.

Since discovering in December 2018 that donated food in Houthi areas was being systematically diverted through a local partner connected to Houthi authorities, the WFP has pressed the Houthis harder to implement a biometric system used globally to combat corruption in aid distribution.

The biometric system – using iris scanning, fingerprints or facial recognition – is already used in areas controlled by Yemen's internationally recognized government, which is backed a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states.

The Houthis said the process should be run by the Yemeni Social Welfare Fund, A Sana'a-based agency that coordinates with international aid groups.

Mohamed Ali al-Houthi, head of the Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee, told Reuters the WFP insisted on controlling the data in violation of Yemeni law.

"We have proposed many solutions including to distribute cards exclusively to the beneficiaries and to use cash instead of food aid ... but they refused," he said.

He called for independent investigation because the WFP received money from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who lead the anti-Houthi alliance. The agency says it remains independent regardless of its source of funding.

Yemen has been racked by a 4-year bloody conflictbetween the internationally-recognized Yemeni government's forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who ousted the government in 2014.

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