Public statement on US planned designation of Ansar Allah as a terrorist organisation

Published 21. Jan 2024

Reacting to the US’ announced upcoming designation of Ansar Allah in Yemen as a terrorist organisation, NRC said:

The Norwegian Refugee Council is deeply concerned about the potential humanitarian consequences of the US government designating Ansar Allah in Yemen as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist group. This decision could negatively affect essential imports and services that millions of vulnerable Yemenis depend on. The organisation is equally worried by reports other states are considering wider designations that could exacerbate impacts on the population in Yemen.

Ansar Allah, the target of the designations, currently controls areas accounting for up to 70% of the population, including the capital, Sana'a, and Hoddeidah sea port which remains a lifeline for populations living in the north who are already facing high levels of acute food insecurity.

Humanitarian agencies like NRC have been struggling to keep up with increasing needs in a country where displaced people and those who survived the conflict wonder if they will survive hunger amid wide funding cuts to international assistance. Yemen is reliant on imports for 90% of the country’s food and fuel supplies and almost all medical supplies.

The US General Licenses safeguarding humanitarian relief and allowing certain commercial and other activities are crucial and welcomed. However, NRC is concerned that this increasingly constrained operating environment may scare away commercial and financial actors - which humanitarian actors and civilians alike depend on – from operating in Yemen even with these safeguards in place. Any major disruption to the supply chain into Yemen would not only impede the ability for humanitarian actors to operate but also exacerbate the humanitarian needs on the ground as access to food, fuel, medicine, banking, and other services would be compromised.

US government public statements, confirming that they will be reaching out to humanitarian agencies and private sector suppliers in the coming 30 days to minimise adverse effects on civilians in Yemen, provide assurance . There is only a short window of opportunity to ensure that these consultations are appropriately wide-ranging and that identified mitigation measures can be put in place before the designation takes effect.

We call on other states considering designations to keep Yemeni civilians top of mind and to consult with humanitarian agencies and private sector actors to align safeguards and minimise harm.
We renew our calls for all parties to refrain from any further escalation and prioritise the safety of Yemen’s civilians who have suffered enough. The only viable way for this to happen is through a lasting peace deal that brings to an end nine years of conflict, poverty and displacement.