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June 3, 2019 No.
8101

Yemeni Government: UN Supplied Houthis With Vehicles Which Appeared In Houthi Military Parade

On May 27, 2019, the UN in Yemen disclosed that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) had provided the Yemen Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC) with 20 Hilux vehicles "to support their daily demining efforts in the [Yemeni] ports of Hodeidah, Ras al-Isa and Salif."[1] The report drew condemnations from the Yemeni government, which claimed that YEMAC is effectively under the control of the Houthi militias, and therefore the UN was providing state-of-the-art vehicles to the Houthis, who are the ones laying the mines in Yemen, including in the Hodeidah area. Criticism of the UN was also expressed on social media, as exemplified by the image below.


UN emblem with a landmine as a centerpiece, disseminated on Twitter under the "UNDP funds Houthis' landmines" hashtag (source: Twitter.com/Alyemennow, May 30, 2019)

YEMAC's Connections To The Houthi Movement  

YEMAC is officially part of Yemen's National Mine Action Committee (NMAC), which conducts demining activity in Yemen and is supported by the UNDP.[2] Official Yemeni elements have described it as a state body that acts effectively to remove mines from populated areas in the country. However, YEMAC clearly has organizational ties with the Houthi authorities. For years it was directed by Yahya Hassan Al-Houthi, of the Al-Houthi clan that led the Yemen coup, until the government's military intelligence arrested him, presumably in order to gain control of the funds supplied to the organization by the UNDP.[3] In fact, it seems that the Houthi movement effectively controls YEMAC's resources, especially in the areas under its control, such as Hodeidah.

Official YEMAC statements confirm its organizational ties with the Houthi authorities. For example, a February 23, 2018 post on YEMAC's Facebook page calling for the release of its director, Yahya Hassan Al-Houthi, ended with the Houthi slogan: "Allah akbar, death to America, death to Israel, a curse upon the Jews and victory for Islam." The post is accompanied by images from a conference calling for Al-Houthi's release, one of which also features the same slogan.[4]


The post on YEMAC's Facebook page

Yemeni Officials Condemn Provision Of Vehicles To Houthis

Responding to the UN report about the provision of the vehicles to YEMAC, Yemeni Information Minister Mu'ammar Al-'Iryani called it "a new outrage [perpetrated] by the UN in disregard of Yemeni lives." In a series of tweets, he wrote that, "since its coup against the Yemen government four years ago, the Houthi militia has not announced the removal of a single landmine, but at the same time has laid hundreds of thousands of mines of various kinds… It is unfortunate that the funds provided by friendly sister states via the UN to the Yemen aid programs is used to finance the production of Houthi mines under Iranian sponsorship."[5]

Yemen's Minister of Local Administration and head of the Supreme Relief Committee, 'Abd Al-Raqib Fath, said that supporting the Houthi coup militia by providing it with 20 demining vehicles "is completely at odds with the UN's own principles as well as with international and humanitarian norms. The UN organizations," he added, "should support the Yemeni government and the efforts of the [Saudi] MASAM project to remove the mines planted by the [Houthi] militias in Yemen, which include over 1,200,000 naval mines, landmines and explosive charges… Those who kill people with mines do not remove them."[6] 

Criticism of the UN was also expressed on social media, some of it under the English and Arabic hashtag "UNDP funds Houthis' landmines." A user from Aden, Lina Saleh Al-'Adani, posted the image that accompanied the UN report on the transfer of the vehicles, and wrote: "The weirdest report in the world: the UN  gave the Houthis 20 vehicles today to help them clear mines! How is that [supposed to work], when it is the Houthi   militias themselves that plant the mines all over Yemen? Weirder still is that the head of YEMAC is a partner of the UN program in Yemen."[7]

 


Lina Saleh Al-'Adani's tweet

Report: UN Vehicles Were Showcased In Houthi Military Parade

Yemeni officials and media affiliated with the Yemeni government reported that a parade held by the Houthis in Hodeidah on the occasion of International Qods Day (a day instigated by the Iranian regime, dedicated to solidarity with the Palestinian cause and opposition to Israel) featured, among other gear, the vehicles provided by the UNDP to YEMAC, as well as vehicles bearing the portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Hizbullah flags. The reports also noted that, according to the Stockholm agreement on a ceasefire in Hodeida and its ports, signed by the Houthis on December 13, 2018, the city is supposed to be demilitarized. [8]


The Yemeni Information Minister's tweet

The London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reports that on June 1, the Houthis began using the vehicles to transport fighters and lay new mines in areas under their control on Yemen's western coast, while Houthi officials are holding talks with UN representatives in Sanaa to receive additional aid.[9] It should be noted that the Yemeni government has repeatedly complained that the UN is biased in favor of the Houthis, accepts their presence in Hodeidah and ignores their blatant violations of the Stockholm agreement.[10] In fact, on May 21, 2019, the Yemeni parliament instructed the government to stop cooperating with the UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths, on the grounds that he acts contra to UN resolutions and the Stockholm agreement, and ignores the fact that the Houthis' withdrawal from the Hodeidah ports is mere pretense.[11]

 

[1] Ye.one.un.org, May 27, 2019.

[2] Ye-yemac.org/about.

[3] Qposts.com, August 28, 2018.

[5] Twitter.com/ERYANIM, May 29, 2019.

[6] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 2, 2019.

[7] Twitter.com/w2mgAfzEcURlxTK, May 28, 2019.

[8] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 2, 2019; adennews.com, June 1, 2019.

[9] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 2, 2019.

[10] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), May 16, 2019; 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), March 26, 2019.

[11] Alarabiya.net, May 22, 2019.