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Yemen rebels, supporters protest US 'terror' listing

By AFP - Jan 25,2021 - Last updated at Jan 25,2021

Supporters of Yemen's Houthi rebels chant slogans as they march with banners during a rally denouncing the United States and the Trump administration's decision to apply the 'terrorist' designation to the Iran-backed movement, in the Houthi-held capital Sanaa, on Monday (AFP photo)

SANAA — Thousands of Yemen's Houthi rebels and their supporters protested in Sanaa on Monday after the US blacklisted the group as "terrorist", a move aid groups have warned could put millions of civilians at risk.

Washington is reviewing the designation by the Trump administration, which came into effect the day before Joe Biden took office and sparked fears of further catastrophe in the war-torn country.

The Houthis, who have controlled Sanaa since 2014, marched along with their sympathisers, carrying signs reading "America is the mother of terrorism!"

"Who is killing the Yemeni people?" they chanted. "America!"

Houthi official Ahmed Sharafeddine, who took part in the demonstration, told AFP the US designation would backfire.

"It will only give us more strength and unity," he said.

Another protester said that the protest was "a reflection of the steadfastness" of Yemenis.

The United Nations says the situation in Yemen is the world's worst humanitarian disaster.

Twenty-two aid groups working in the country said Sunday that even with exemptions for humanitarian work, the designation would have "serious implications" and disrupt their ability to deliver assistance to parts of Yemen where people are most in need.

The groups also warned that the listing would hit commercial deliveries of vital food, fuel and medicines as well as making it "even more difficult" to make money transfers and pay staff salaries.

The Iran-aligned Houthis seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 and much of northern Yemen, sparking a Saudi-led intervention the following year to prop up the internationally recognised government.

The conflict has since left tens of thousands dead and millions displaced.

According to the UN, more than three million people have been displaced and close to 80 per cent of the Yemen's 29 million people need of some form of aid for survival.

Antony Blinken, Biden's pick for secretary of state, said at his confirmation hearing that he would "immediately" review the Trump administration's labelling of the insurgents.

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