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Yemen on Brink of Famine Due to Grain Shortage

Yemen on Brink of Famine Due to Grain Shortage

Friday, 20 May, 2022 - 06:00
Yemenis fill their jerrycans with water from a well at a makeshift camp for people who fled the conflict, in the village of Hays in Yemen's western province of Hodeidah, on May 17, 2022. (AFP)

For the first time in years since the Houthi coup, major commercial suppliers have sounded the alarm in Yemen, warning of an imminent famine in the country as a result of the rise in global wheat prices and diminishing stocks.

The Hayel Saeed Anam (HSA) Group, Yemen's largest company and leading wheat importer, issued a stark warning of impending mass famine as a result of unprecedented disruption to global wheat supplies generated by the fallout from the conflict in Ukraine.

It said global wheat prices are set to rise further due to the export ban on Indian wheat that recently came into effect.

The United Nations had warned in April that over 25.5 million Yemenis out of the country’s 30 million people are living below the poverty line due to the war in their country.

HSA therefore called for immediate international intervention to avert another humanitarian catastrophe in the coming months, proposing that international and regional organizations explore innovative solutions to ensure sufficient wheat supplies reach Yemeni communities.

Nabil Hayel Saeed Anam, managing director of the company, said that during this current period of global uncertainty, HSA has taken steps to ensure access to basic commodities "so that we can continue to provide affordable food and essential goods to Yemeni people."

“This includes making use of our $75 million loan agreement with the International Finance Corporation, which has allowed us to mobilize working capital rapidly in the face of rising wheat prices to secure sufficient supplies of this daily staple for Yemen,” he said.

Hayel Saeed Anam added that desperate times call for bold action.

“We stand ready to work hand-in-hand with our international and regional partners to help put in place emergency mechanisms to respond to Yemen's food security crisis that will enable the private sector to access and fund wheat imports in the immediate term,” he said.

“Without an urgent intervention, there is an immediate and definitive risk that we will not be able to prevent a wave of extreme hunger from engulfing the country and pushing hundreds of thousands into famine,” he added.

Despite the series of warnings for urgent solutions and proposals to avoid a shortage of wheat supplies to Yemen, the Iran-backed Houthi militias and their unrecognized government continue to deliberately ignore the gravity of this potential disaster, while continuing to hinder the work of relief groups.

Informed sources in Sanaa said the militias have recently instructed their supporters in the occupied capital, Sanaa, to stop the operation of many local humanitarian and charitable institutions in several cities under their control.

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