1011 GMT March 01, 2021
The administration of former president Donald Trump’s move against the Houthis had come into effect the day before Biden took office, to resounding criticism from experts, the United Nations and aid groups, AFP reported.
"This designation comes at a time when famine is a very real threat to a country devastated by six years of conflict, and it must be revoked immediately," said a joint statement Sunday by 22 groups including Mercy Corps, Oxfam and Save the Children.
"Any disruption to lifesaving aid operations and commercial imports of food, fuel, medicine and other essential goods will put millions of lives at risk."
The Houthis took control of the capital Sana’a and much of northern Yemen in 2014. A year later a Saudi-led coalition launched an air campaign to bring them down and restore a former government.
The conflict has since left tens of thousands dead and millions displaced, in what the UN has called the world's worst humanitarian disaster.
Antony Blinken, Biden's pick for secretary of state, said at his confirmation hearing that he would "immediately" review the Trump administration's labeling of the Houthi movement, over fears the move was worsening a humanitarian crisis.
In their statement, the 22 aid groups said that "even with licenses and exemptions in place for humanitarian work, the designation will have serious implications, causing delays and uncertainty in our ability to deliver assistance (and) making it even more difficult to operate" in parts of Yemen home to those most in need.
They also warned that the listing would hit commercial deliveries which make up most of Yemen's food, fuel and medicines, and make money transfers and paying staff salaries "even more difficult".
They added it could "hurt UN-led efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict".
This month Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, called on the United States to reverse the Trump administration's move.
Calls for ending war
More than 300 antiwar and humanitarian organizations across the world signed a statement calling for an end to the Saudi war against impoverished Yemen.
The statement called for an international day of action on January 25, just days after US President Joe Biden’s inauguration and the day before Saudi Arabia’s “Davos in the Desert” Future Investment Initiative, Press TV reported.
It pointed to the Saudi-led bombing and blockade of Yemen, which have killed tens of thousands of Yemeni people, saying despite the dire circumstances the Yemenis are in, including a devastating COVID-19 outbreak, Saudi Arabia is escalating its war and tightening its blockade.
“The war is only possible because Western countries – and the United States and Britain in particular – continue to arm Saudi Arabia and provide military, political and logistical support for the war,” it said. “The Western powers are active participants and have the power to stop the world’s most acute human crisis.”
Saudi Arabia launched its war on Yemen war in 2015 in a bid to reinstall Yemen’s former pro-Riyadh government. The military campaign has turned the poor Arab country into the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, with tens of thousands of civilians killed and many more suffering the calamities of the war.
Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, which effectively administers most of the country, has said the Saudi-led coalition will pay dearly for its atrocities.
“Invasion of Yemen is a crime. So is the siege of the country. And continuation of these two amounts to a double crime,” Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
The signatories of the antiwar statement were organizations from Yemen, the US, Britain, Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, and some other countries.
They said the war on Yemen is manmade, and therefore, it can be ended.
They also demanded that their governments immediately “stop foreign aggression on Yemen; stop weapons and war support for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; lift the blockade on Yemen and open all land and sea ports; and restore and expand humanitarian aid for the people of Yemen.”