The legitimate government of president Hadi has criticized the signing of a memorandum of understanding by the United Nations with Houthi militias to airlift the wounded, describing it as a “blatant defiance of international law” and a violation of diplomatic norms.
The MOU marks a remarkable development in the relationship between United Nations organizations operating in Yemen and the Houthi insurgents.
Critically ill patients will be flown out of Yemen for treatment through scheduled United Nations flights as of Tuesday, for a period of six months, according to the new memorandum between the Houthis, who seized power by force, and the UN humanitarian coordinator Lise Grande.
Yemen’s government has said it will not recognise an agreement between Houthi rebels and the UN to send critically ill civilians abroad for treatment, which was reached without its knowledge.
Officials in Yemen are concerned that fighters from Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah are fighting alongside the rebels and could use the flights to smuggle its fighters and allied rebels out of the country under a medical guise.
“We were surprised when we heard this development; the health ministry has been negotiating this subject with the United Nations for months,” said Hamza Al Kamali, deputy minister for youth affairs and a member of the government team that travelled to Geneva for UN-mediated peace talks this month.
“We will not accept this deal or authorise it,” Mr Al Kamali said. “The only way we will accept it is if an agreement is made between the legitimate government of Yemen and the United Nations.”
There are fears that the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are seeking legitimacy through negotiations with the UN, despite emerging after illegally taking control of the Yemeni capital Sanaa and several other population centres.
For his part, Muammar al-Iryani, Minister of Information said, “the international community had considered the militias as coupists against the country’s legitimacy. “This is what was stated in Resolution 2216, which clearly described the crisis as between a constitutional government and coupists,” he stated, questioning the objectives of the United Nations with this recent MOU, which contravenes international diplomatic and legal norms.
The minister added that the memorandum was “an alternative means to save terrorists, Houthi leaders, and experts who were used by the Houthis under the pretext of critical situations.”
Al-Iryani stressed that the legitimate government would not hesitate under any circumstances to carry out its duties to protect the interests of the Yemeni people and adopt the appropriate measures.