Missiles and Food: Yemen’s man-made food security crisis




The current dramatic levels of food insecurity in Yemen and the threat of famine are the results of over two-and-a-half years of war, adding to the already high levels existing pre-war. Yet, this food crisis is entirely manmade. Yemen imports around 90% of its food. Inspection mechanisms, congestion at ports and a destroyed infrastructure are hurdles that have caused a rise in food prices. At the same time, the economic crisis, the decline of the private sector and the non-payment of salaries in the public sector, as well as the loss of livelihoods has left people without the means to purchase what is available in the market. Significant delays in food imports and marked up prices have increased the cost for food to the extent that it is out of reach for most of the population, even though food has been readily available in large quantities in the markets. Yet, the lack of the most basic financial means and high food prices have combined to create a real threat for 17.8 million of the 27 million population of Yemen.

In less than three years since the escalation of the conflict in March 2015, the number of people who are food insecure in Yemen has risen from 11 million to nearly 18 million. The recent obstruction of food imports on which Yemen is heavily dependent has further exacerbated the crisis, with the result that two-thirds of Yemen’s population do not know where their next meal is coming from. This is a deadly combination, especially for the most vulnerable in society, including women and children.

The recent blockade, which has cut off large parts of Yemen from commercial imports, including fuel and food, has made far worse the already dire circumstances under which most people in Yemen live. Without immediate action to comprehensively tackle the world’s largest food crisis, Yemen risks becoming one of the worst famines in 2018.