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Congress Pressures Trump Administration to Restore Aid to Yemen

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U.S. Congress is urging the State Department to reconsider U.S. assistance to Yemen suspended by President Donald Trump’s administration earlier this year after a plea from humanitarian groups last month appeared to fall on deaf ears, redoubling attention on years of U.S. policy missteps in the war-torn country.

In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo provided to us, a group of more than 50 Democratic lawmakers led by Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida, who chairs the Middle East subcommittee of the House’s powerful foreign-affairs panel, called on the agency to restore $73 million in aid halted in March over U.S. fears that Iran-backed Houthi rebels were seizing control of the aid and stopping distribution.

Lawmakers said that the move has only worsened the humanitarian disaster in Yemen, where the majority of citizens face deepening food insecurity and which is struggling to stop the spread of the coronavirus. In a plea to U.S. Agency for International Development acting head John Barsa last month, aid organizations said that as fighting intensified over the summer, they were unable to provide lifesaving aid—in part because of a U.S.-imposed aid suspension to northern Yemen, which is controlled by Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

Lawmakers cited worries that airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis have destroyed many of Yemen’s medical facilities and that escalating fighting in the Marib region has caused additional displacement of civilians, problems that threaten to get worse as United Nations-led peace talks have stalled.

“The challenges of Yemen are multifaceted and complex. However, progress is impossible without sustained and vigorous U.S. diplomatic engagement,” the lawmakers wrote to Pompeo. “We urge you to reverse U.S. assistance cuts, redouble efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, mitigate the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe, and advance a political solution to the Yemeni conflict.”

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of........

© Foreign Policy

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