Potential Houthi Militia FTO Designation Could Have ‘Devastating Outcome’ for Yemeni Civilians

Please see the below statement from Refugees International Senior Advocate for the Middle East Sahar Atrache: 

“Refugees International is deeply concerned about reports that the Biden administration may designate the Yemeni Houthi militia as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). A year ago, when Secretary of State Blinken revoked an FTO designation against the Houthis that had been imposed by the prior administration, he declared that his action was “a recognition of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen.” That dire situation has only grown worse over the past many months.

In recent weeks, Yemen—torn apart by years of conflict and the worst humanitarian crisis in the world—has seen a dangerous escalation. The direct attacks by the Houthis into the United Arab Emirates’ capital led to retaliatory strikes by the Saudi-led coalition, which resulted in scores of civilian casualties and a four-day internet blackout across the country. Refugees International condemns these grave violations and attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure by both warring parties.

 However, an FTO designation will likely be counterproductive, and would certainly result in debilitating ripple effects felt most directly by the people of Yemen. U.S. sanctions resulting from such a designation will have little effect on Houthis, who do not have foreign bank accounts and do not engage in significant international travel. Rather an FTO designation risks stoking the Houthis’ belligerence, further eroding the country’s failing economy, significantly hampering relief efforts, and leading to a new wave of internal displacement. Given its devastating outcome for the Yemeni civilian population, the Biden administration should refrain from this decision.” 

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Refugees International VP for Strategic Outreach Sarah Sheffer at ssheffer@refugeesinternational.org.



PHOTO CAPTION: A photo of the city of Taiz, Yemen by Hiro Otake via Openverse.