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UN finalises accord with Yemen rebels to resume food aid

The UN had suspended deliveries of food aid to rebel-held areas on 20 June following accusations of "diversion of food" meant for Yemeni civilians.

FILE: A Yemeni mother holds her malnourished child as they wait for treatments in a medical centre in the village of Al Mutaynah, in the Tuhayta province, western Yemen, in November 2018. Picture: AFP.

SANAA - The United Nations and Yemen's Huthi rebels announced Sunday an agreement to resume delivery of food aid suspended for six weeks in areas controlled by the group.

The agreement was signed on Saturday in the rebel-held capital Sanaa, Huthi-controlled media said.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) "signed a high level agreement that is an important step towards safeguards that guarantee the accountability of our humanitarian operation in Yemen", WFP spokesperson Herve Verhoosel said in an email to AFP.

"We are hopeful that technical details can be agreed in the coming days," he added.

The agreement includes a biometric database of civilians in need of aid in order to guarantee "effective and efficient distribution" and to "benefit the most needy", according to the Huthis' Alsyasiah website.

The agreement also stipulates "total transparency" in the registration of beneficiaries and distribution of aid, it added.

On 18 July, WFP head David Beasley announced an agreement in principle was reached with the Huthis to resume food aid to the areas they control.

The UN had suspended deliveries of food aid to rebel-held areas on 20 June following accusations of "diversion of food" meant for Yemeni civilians.

Fighting between the Iran-backed Huthis and government forces aided by a Saudi-led coalition has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, aid agencies say.

The conflict has also forced some 3.3 million people from their homes and 24.1 million, some 80 percent of the population, is in need of aid, according to the UN.