Riyadh, November 29, 2017 – Yemen has been the biggest aid beneficiary from King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) – totalling $911 million – since the establishment of the Centre in 2015. This is part of a total aid of $8.27 billion given to Yemen by the Kingdom between April 2015 and August 2017, said by Dr Samer Al Jutaily, Consultant of Supervisor General at the Centre.
The Centre has recently signed two projects worth $25 million with the World Health Organization to fight cholera in Yemen, where suspected cases have dropped by about 80% over the past six months. Cholera fatality in the country has fallen by more than 70%, he said.
Despite these encouraging results, many hurdles to delivering humanitarian aid remain.
“Too often, the food supplies we send are seized by Houthis, who give them to families that agree to send their children to fight for them in the front lines,” said a high-level official at Saudi High Relief Committee, which provides logistical support to King Salman Relief Centre (KSRelief) in its operations in Yemen.
“Gruelling poverty in the Houthi-held areas means many families have little option but to accede to their demands,” she said on the condition of anonymity as she feared revenge attacks by the militias on her family in Yemen.
Houthis also steal medical supplies and expensive medical equipment, especially dialysis machines, sent by KSRelief and other nongovernmental organisations, and sell them outside. This phenomenon is particularly prevalent in the Red Sea Port City of Hodeidah, Yemen’s fourth-largest city. “As a result, kidney related diseases and deaths are significantly higher in that place, compared to other parts of the country,” she said.
According to the government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, the annual income generated by the Houthis from port taxes and other means stands at USD $1. billion.
Despite facing major obstacles in carrying out humanitarian work in Yemen, KSRelief said it successfully runs four hospitals, one each in Maarib, Taez, Aden and Hadhramaut. The Kingdom is planning to build educational institutions and smart classrooms this year in different governorates of Yemen while the UAE, a partner in the Saudi-led military coalition seeking to liberate Yemen from the Iran-backed Houthi militia, has rebuilt more than 150 schools in Aden last year.
However, the problems in carrying out relief activities are compounded by some major and supposedly reputable international aid agencies that tend to take the Houthis’s side, said the High Relief Committee official. “These agencies recruit Houthis who work on the ground and present the picture from their perspective. So everything is manipulated.”