Yemen

Yemen Key Message Update: Protests intensify in the south due to further sharp depreciation of currency and food price increases, September 2021

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Situation Report
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Key Messages

  • Driven by conflict, the deteriorating economy is exacerbating the severity of acute food insecurity and shortfalls in public services, particularly across areas controlled by the internationally-recognized government (IRG) where local populations continue to face high levels of inflation. Declining purchasing power and dilapidated public services and infrastructure continue to increase the vulnerability of the majority of Yemenis—many of whom have limited access to essential life-saving services such as health care and clean water—to shocks such as COVID-19 and flooding. Widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely to continue at the governorate level, with worst-affected households likely to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes. Although not the most likely scenario, Famine (IPC Phase 5) would be possible if food supply is cut off for a prolonged period.

  • The recent military re-escalation in Marib, Al Bayda, Shabwah, and expansion to parts of Abyan has forced more households to flee their homes and has left many more at risk of losing their livelihoods and sources of income. As of September 25, 2021, 11,186 households (67,116 individuals) have been displaced since the beginning of the year across 13 out of the 22 governorates monitored by IOM. Of these, 39 percent have been displaced in Marib. According to reporting in August, WFP is verifying the needs of an additional 133,500 displaced people expected to be in need of food assistance in Marib, on top of the 469,500 beneficiaries already targeted monthly. According to a recent UNHCR assessment, some displacement settlements near frontlines areas are currently not accessible by humanitarian partners due to insecurity.

  • Civil unrest and demonstrations have reached new levels of intensity in IRG-controlled areas since mid-September, where many of the poorest households—including those dependent on daily wage labor—continue to be impacted disproportionately by rising living expenses and deterioration in public services due to insufficient government revenue. Shops were closed and petty trading was interrupted to due to the insecurity, preventing impacted households from accessing income for around four days in Aden and around one week in Taizz and Al Mukalla cities. According to data from Intelyse as of September 27, 2021, 54 demonstrations had been recorded that month in Aden, Shabwah, Abyan, Socotra, Lahj, and Hadhramaut, already the highest monthly total on record and more than 2.5 times the monthly average since September 2016. More recently, as of September 28, violent protests and shop closures have resumed in Aden.

  • The Yemeni riyal (YER) has continued to depreciate rapidly in areas under IRG control, reaching 1,171 YER/USD (selling rate) in Aden as of September 28, 2021, despite the August IMF deposit of 665 million USD to the Central Bank of Yemen in Aden. Reportedly due to the current absence of measures to save the currency from free fall, the Money Exchangers Association has enacted a general strike across IRG-controlled areas on September 15, which is ongoing as of September 29. Though exchange shops remain closed, currency is being traded on the parallel market and the YER continues to depreciate. Meanwhile, the YER remains stable across areas under control of the Sana’a-based authorities (SBA).

  • Currency depreciation continues to drive rapid food and fuel price increases in areas under IRG control. According to data from FAO, the average cost of the minimum food basket in August 2021 was 62 percent higher than at the same time last year. Meanwhile, the Private Fuel Association announced a strike in IRG-controlled areas on September 29, due to unprofitable selling prices given the currency depreciation. Private/commercial fuel stations are currently closed but have raised petrol prices to around 17,000-18,000 YER/20L alongside the strike. Though fuel remains available at official stations, long lines are reported. IRG authorities have raised official fuel prices several times this year, with current prices of petrol in Aden now 12,800 YER/20L according to key informants, more than 2.5 times higher than at the same time last year according to data from FAO.