The World Food Program (WFP) has demanded the implementation of a face biometrics system in place for distribution of food aid.

Announcing it via Voice of America after uncovering strong evidence that food for Sana’a community is not reaching them. The area under discussion has a Houthi representation. A spokesperson from the rebel group has said that it will take immediate actions to find out the culprits and put an end to it.

The WFP has suggested that a similar biometrics registration currently working in Aden can be used in Sana’a as well but the defacto authorities are yet to address the request.

According to reports, this isn’t the first time that top official bodies have mentioned biometrics authentication use for such purposes. United Nations has already made its plan clear regarding use of face verification and voice based authentication for access purposes. The UN sees iris and facial authentication to be fruitful and less riskier.

Saudi Stance

The Saudi-Yemen ambassador Muhammad bin Saeed said according to their calculations almost 60 percent of the aid sent by Saudi coalition for Yemenis has not been yet received and it is unclear where the aid went, as no trace has been found of it after it being sent. He has alleged that Houthi led groups are creating obstacles on the ground by blocking access to food shelters, and first-aid resources. An investigation by AP claims that rebels re-rout the the food and other aid to front line of battle. Either this or it is selling for profit in the black market. The ones for whom food is sent are doubted of disloyalty. 

According to United Nations, 16 million people in Yemen are currently at the brink of Famine. An additional 4 million are what is being termed as “food insecure”.

Herve Verhoosel, spokesperson from WFP said, “The de facto authorities in Sana’a have a responsibility to take action against those involved in stealing from the beneficiaries and in trading of food aid,”. He also mentioned that WFP has repeatedly requested Houthis to take responsibility and bring an end to fraud. They are yet to do something about it.

Response by Houthis

The Houthis in return have demanded a cash-based beneficiary system which the WFP is vehemently against. Verhoosel has further added that “Given the risk of corruption, we have made it clear to the de facto authorities that we will not introduce cash-based transfers unless we are authorized to implement a biometric identification system that uses personal data including iris scans and ten-finger prints to ensure that only registered beneficiaries are able to claim their cash or food rations”.

With the help of Biometrics Registration in place it satisfies the concerned authorities. It makes sure that food and other aid is actively reaching to the targeted residents. However, a study conducted by Oxfam in 2018 strongly suggests to not use any sensitive technology. Especially in areas of war or conflict because resulting outcome could be unprecedented.

This is a developing story.



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