dpa/GNA – Yemen’s Houthi rebels have diverted more than 1 billion dollars in state funds to their fight in the country’s civil war, according to a confidential UN report seen by dpa.

A panel of experts estimates that the Iran-backed Houthis diverted at least 1.8 billion dollars in 2019 that was originally intended for the Yemeni government to use to pay salaries and provide basic services for citizens, according to the report.

In addition, corruption and money laundering by Yemen’s official government make it difficult for the population to access much-needed food, the panel reported.

The Saudi-backed leadership thus impairs Yemenis’ access to food.

In one case, funds from Yemen’s central bank worth 423 million dollars had gone to private companies at the expense of citizens in the war-torn country, it said.

Representatives of the United Nations have repeatedly warned that Yemen is on the verge of a famine that could kill hundreds of thousands of people.

According to the report, the situation has been complicated by the decision from former US President Donald Trump’s administration to place the Houthis on its terror list, as it could deter food importers from making shipments to the country.

So far, President Joe Biden’s new administration in Washington has not withdrawn the measure.

In Yemen, a military alliance led by Saudi Arabia is fighting alongside the government against the Houthis, who are backed by Iran. In the north and west, the Houthis control virtually all aspects of daily life.

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