Pictures of UN-supplied vehicles in Houthi parade invite sharp criticism

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Social media has been rife with comments and images of Houthi militants blatantly using UN-supplied vehicles, purportedly meant to assist in demining efforts in Hodeidah, during a military parade.

Tweets by the Yemeni Information Minister Moammar Al Eryani carried photos of the Houthi military parade in which the vehicles provided by the UN Development Program (UNDP) were used.

He wrote that the Houthis displayed pictures of Iranian leader Khamenei and also the Hezbollah flag during the parade “five months after the agreement in Sweden, which stipulated the ceasefire and the cessation of all forms of reinforcements and the end of armed demonstrations in the city.”

“The images prove that what the UN envoy calls Yemen local police and Coast Guard forces are Houthi militias.”

Al Eryani accused the UN envoy Martin Griffiths of trying “to achieve personal achievements away from the reality on the ground, which is witnessing further escalation and Houthi involvement in the Iranian agenda.”

New York-based activist Summer Nasser in her tweet addressed the UNDP in Yemen, diplomats and the international community and wrote that no sooner the trucks given by the UNDP to Houthis had created an outcry in Yemen, on the second day the militants used them for a military parade.

On May 27, the UN Development Program announced providing 20 Hilux armored vehicles to the Yemen Executive Action Centre (YEMAC), a militant-controlled agency.

Hodeidah has been under Houthi control since late 2014 and is the focus of a faltering peace deal brokered by the UN in December.

According to the UNDP statement, the vehicles were dispatched to ensure the safety and security of the de-miners in Hodeidah through which most humanitarian aid and imports to Yemen enter.

The UNDP added that the vehicle handover was the first of a larger procurement for YEMAC in both northern and southern Yemen.

Yemen’s internationally recognized government had sharply criticized the UN for handing over vehicles to the militants. The Information Minister al-Eryani on Wednesday called the step a “new UN scandal and seriously puts Yemenis’ lives at risk.”

Al-Eryani also said in a tweet: “Since their coup against the legitimate government four years ago, Al Houthi militias have not announced removing a single landmine.”

On the other hand, the minister accused the militia of planting hundreds of thousands of mines across the country.

Al-Eryani also had warned that the Houthi militia will use the vehicles in their combat operations in Hodeidah and the flashpoint south-western province of Dhalea.

This latest development comes amid the accusation by the Yemeni government of UN envoy Martin Griffiths’ bias towards Houthis.

It also accused Griffiths of treating the militia as a “de-facto government and as an equal to the legitimate and elected government” of Yemen.

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