Oxfam reaction to US Secretary of State Pompeo’s decision to designate the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and Specially Designated Global Terrorist

Published: 11th January 2021

In response to US Secretary of State Pompeo’s decision to designate the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and Specially Designated Global Terrorist, Oxfam America’s Humanitarian Policy Lead Scott Paul said:

“Secretary Pompeo’s decision to designate the Houthis as a terrorist organization is a counter-productive and dangerous policy that will put innocent lives at risk. This designation will not help to resolve the conflict or provide justice for the violations and abuses committed during the war; it will only compound the crisis for millions of Yemenis fighting for their survival.

“Of the many options available for identifying and punishing terrorists, the Foreign Terrorist Organization designation that Secretary Pompeo has chosen to apply is by far the most severe – and the most deadly for Yemeni families. It will block US humanitarian aid, goods, and personnel from entering northern Yemen, where 70% of the population lives, and substantially reduce them throughout the rest of the country.

“The consequences will be felt acutely across a country also hit hard by extreme hunger, cholera and Covid-19, as banks, businesses and humanitarian donors become unwilling or unable to take on the risk of operating in Yemen.

“Every day these designations remain in place will compound the suffering of Yemen’s most vulnerable families. We call on President-Elect Biden to revoke them immediately upon taking office. In this instance, acting “on day one” cannot be only a figure of speech, as lives hang in the balance.”

Notes to editors

Oxfam in Yemen is not subject to US law and does not accept US government funding, so we will face fewer obstacles than some of our peer agencies. But given the far-reaching nature of terrorism designations, the humanitarian response and economy in Yemen will be drastically impacted, and we will nonetheless face difficult challenges in the months ahead.

According to UN Under-Secretary Mark Lowcock, the mere threat of a designation has caused food imports to drop by 25% in November: https://www.ft.com/content/c1b81e0a-363b-4a25-bd25-df1b2af87645

Contact information

Sarah Grainger | sgrainger1@oxfam.org.uk | +44 781 018 1514.

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