Houthis destroy new batch of ‘expired’ food aid after holding it up for months

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Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia on Tuesday destroyed tons of food aid they said had expired after it was reportedly held up for months by the militia in the war-torn country, teetering on the edge of famine.

The Houthis used diggers to break up sacks of maggot-ridden rice and flour bearing the logo of the UN’s World Food Program (WFP).

“This consignment of foodstuff was going off and was full of small insects... it wasn’t even good for animals,” said Houthi official Majed Sari.

A UN source said the aid had been intended for delivery to families in the city of Taiz in November 2018.

But it “ended up detained at a checkpoint for months and months”, the source told AFP.

Houthis have been accused by humanitarian organizations of holding up aid in checkpoints, and looting. In late June, a WFP spokesperson said that Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia have blocked a shipment meant to feed some 100,000 families.

The official says the aid was blocked after the WFP partially suspended aid last week after accusing the Houthis of looting.

The WFP, which says it feeds around 11 million people a month in Yemen, halted distributions to Houthi-controlled territory in June following accusations of “diversion of food” meant for Yemeni civilians.

In early August, it reached a deal to resume deliveries after the Houthis offered guarantees concerning the beneficiaries, the UN agency said.

A WFP spokesperson told AFP that the agency distributes more than 130,000 metric tons of food each month in Yemen despite “operational challenges.”