Record 12.4m people reached with food aid in Yemen: UN

The Houthi militia in Yemen have used access to aid and food as a political tool. (AFP)
Updated 20 September 2019

Record 12.4m people reached with food aid in Yemen: UN

  • But still needed $600 million from donors to provide uninterrupted food deliveries for the next six months in the war-torn country
  • Houthi forces have used access to aid and food as a political tool

GENEVA: A record 12.4 million people in Yemen received food aid in August, the first time the targeted population was reached fully, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday.
At the same time, WFP said it still needed $600 million from donors to provide uninterrupted food deliveries for the next six months in the war-torn country. Rations could be cut from October if funds are not forthcoming, it added.
Houthi forces have used access to aid and food as a political tool, exacerbating what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with high rates of severe child malnutrition.
“New numbers from the August distribution cycle indicate that the UN World Food Programme has reached a record 12.4 million food-insecure people with food assistance in August. This is the highest number ever reached,” WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said in a statement.
WFP previously reached about 11 million Yemenis per month with rations.
The agency halted most aid in Sanaa on June 20 out of concern that food was being diverted, through a local partner, away from vulnerable people. However, it maintained nutrition programs only for malnourished children, as well as pregnant and nursing mothers.
WFP resumed distributions to 850,000 people two months later in the Yemeni capital after reaching an agreement with the Iran-aligned Houthi authorities who control the city. WFP said at the time a biometric registration process would be introduced for 9 million people living in areas under Houthi control.


Iran counts votes in election stacked in favour of hardliners

Updated 22 February 2020

Iran counts votes in election stacked in favour of hardliners

  • Some early results announced by the Interior Ministry indicated that the hardline loyalists to Khamenei were gaining a majority in the 290-seat parliament

DUBAI: Iran has started counting votes in its parliamentary election, state TV said on Saturday, in which hardline allies of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are likely to gain a seizable majority based on preliminary results.
Iranian authorities have yet to announce the turnout in Feb. 21 election for the 290-seat parliament - a litmus test of the popularity of hardliners.
Some early results announced by the Interior Ministry indicated that the hardline loyalists to Khamenei were gaining a majority in the 290-seat parliament.
"So far, 42 seats of the parliament had been won outright by candidates," state TV said. According to a Reuters tally of those results, over 80 percent of them are loyalists to Khamenei.
Iran's rulers, under intense US pressure over the country's nuclear programme, need a high turnout to boost their legitimacy that was damaged after nationwide protests in November. The demonstrations were met with a violent crackdown that deepened resentment over economic hardship and corruption.
The spokesman for the watchdog Guardian Council Abbasali Kadkhodai predicted that the turnout will be around 50 percent, telling state television on Friday that the Iranian nation had disappointed its enemies by voting in large numbers.
Turnout was 62 percent in the 2016 parliamentary vote and 66 percent of people voted in 2012.
With Iran facing growing isolation on the global stage and discontent at home over the economy, the turnout is seen as a referendum on the establishment's handling of the Islamic Republic’s political and economic crises.
The United States' 2018 withdrawal from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers, and its reimposition of sanctions, have hit Iran's economy hard as Iranians call on their leaders to create jobs and create stability.
The vote will have no major influence on foreign affairs or Iran's nuclear policy, which are determined by Khamenei. But it might bolster hardliners in the 2021 contest for president and toughen Tehran's foreign policy. The hardline Guardian Council, which must approve candidates, removed thousands of moderates and leading conservatives from the race by barring about 6,850 of hopefuls from in favour of hardliners from among 14,000 applicants. 

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