Vital food imports have plunged below half the level the country’s needs
Yemen’s population is at risk of catastrophic hunger as food imports continue to plunge and stores of grain near exhaustion, Oxfam warned today.
Oxfam said in August, the amount of food imported into Yemen fell below half the level needed to feed the country’s people and remained below that ever since.
The 20-month-long war, waged between a Saudi-led coalition and the Government of Yemen against the Houthis, has killed and injured over 11,000 civilians, forcing more than 3 million people to flee their homes and bringing the economy to near collapse.
Oxfam is calling on all parties in the conflict to allow food to enter and move freely around the country as well as agree a meaningful ceasefire and restart peace talks.
Oxfam America’s President, Raymond C. Offenheiser said:
“Yemen is being slowly starved to death by warring parties that are using food as a weapon of war. The country’s economy, institutions, and ability to feed and care for its people are all on the brink of collapse. This is not by accident - it is systematic.
“While the situation is extremely dire, there is still time to keep chronic hunger from becoming widespread starvation. The fighting needs to stop and the ports should be fully opened to allow accessibility to vital supplies such as food, fuel and medicine that the people of Yemen need. But what is needed most of all is peace. As one of the principle backers of this brutal war, the United States needs to end its arms sales and military support to the Saudis and help put Yemen on the road to peace.”
“Before the conflict started in 2015, nearly 90 per cent of Yemen’s food had to be imported and reliance on food imports have only increased as the country’s agriculture has been greatly affected due to the ongoing fighting. In November, average delays at ports in Northwest Yemen were considerable – 53 days in Saleef and 23 days in Hodeidah – thanks to a combination of restrictions on shippers, damage to port machinery, insecurity, and banking challenges. These restrictions – imposed and exacerbated by the warring parties - are punishing the civilian population most of all.
“According to the UN, malnutrition is on the increase and more than 14 million people - half the country’s population - are ‘food insecure’, without a reliable source of enough food. The World Food Programme is warning that the numbers may rise to 21 million people.
“People are doubly hit with food prices increasing – cereal prices are over 50 per cent of pre-crisis levels - and income falling. Some 31 per cent of the work force are civil servants and have not been paid or have received irregular payments in recent months. The most vulnerable of the population, the 1.5 million people who had relied on welfare payments have received no payments since the crisis started over a year ago.
“Fuel importing is also a crisis within the country, receiving only a quarter of what it needs and completely dependent to imports. Fuel shortages pose a serious challenge for food distribution, along with keeping hospitals running and lighting family homes.”