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In the news: Yemen rebels look to shift on aid tax

Workers handle sacks of wheat flour at a World Food Programme distribution centre in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a.
]Workers handle sacks of wheat flour at a World Food Programme distribution centre in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a. (Khaled Abdullah/Reuters)

Did US and UK threats to slash aid make an impact on the rebel leadership in Yemen? 

According to UN and NGO officials who requested anonymity, after the two countries protested extensive interference and obstruction of aid, the rebel Houthi authorities appear ready to back down on a proposed two percent tax on aid funds. They may also replace a shipment of recently confiscated UN food.

But the tax was never enforced, and the UN has heard assurances of humanitarian reform before: the World Food Programme has been in talks since December 2018 to set up a new biometric register of aid recipients to stem fraud, and have yet to start even a pilot phase.

A summary of two days of crunch talks in Brussels on aid diversion, obtained by TNH, shows that donors and aid groups will be looking for a lot more: “All restrictions, obstructions and interferences violating humanitarian principles should be sustainably removed immediately and once and for all.”

– Ben Parker

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