Houthi rebels have dropped a threat to tax aid in Yemen, AFP quoted a UN official as saying on Friday. The move is seen as a significant step towards resolving a crisis that has jeopardized the world’s biggest humanitarian operation.

UN leaders and humanitarian groups held talks in Brussels on Thursday to address obstruction by the Houthi militia that has threatened to sever the lifeline to millions at risk of starvation. They heard that vital supplies could be cut off, after humanitarian agencies complained of a deteriorating situation in the Houthi-controlled north where aid workers face arrest and intimidation.

However, a UN official in Sanaa said the rebels had backed away from a proposed 2.0 percent levy on NGOs pushed by the Houthi aid body SCMCHA, criticized for hobbling aid with interference and layers of bureaucracy.

Yemen has been driven to the brink of famine during five years of fighting between the Houthis based in Sanaa, and the Saudi-backed government based in the southern city of Aden.