Millions of Yemenis are at risk of extreme hunger due to unprecedented increases in food prices

Yemen, which has been affected by conflict for 7 years, is badly affected by the global food crisis. The prices of wheat, flour, cooking oil, eggs and sugar have increased by more than a third since March. Extreme hunger threatens millions of Yemenis.

Yemen imports 90 percent of its food, including 42 percent of its wheat from Ukraine. Importers warn that stocks could run out in the coming months and that the rising costs of securing wheat imports to Yemen will be tested. Even after last week’s agreement on grain exports from Ukraine, the disruption to the food supply will be felt for some time to come. A possible drop in the global price of food may be short-lived and does not necessarily translate into a drop in the price that ordinary Yemenis see in the shops. In a country where many people depend on bread for most of their daily diet, this could starve millions of people.

Catherine De Bock, humanitarian worker at Oxfam Belgium, said: “Families pushed to the brink by seven years of conflict are being pushed over the edge as basic food prices become so high. World leaders must act immediately to avoid an even more catastrophic hunger situation.”

A temporary extension of the ceasefire in Yemen in June has brought some relief, but the situation remains volatile. The ongoing economic crisis and the ailing agricultural sector – largely due to the effects of climate change – are also making life difficult for the Yemeni people. Almost 80 percent of the Yemeni population is in need of humanitarian assistance. Meanwhile, humanitarian efforts have only been funded 27 percent this year.

Between March and June this year, basic food prices have increased by 45%:

– The flour price increased by 38%

– Cooking oil became 45% more expensive

– The price of sugar increased by 36%

– Rice has become 30% more expensive

– The price of canned beans has increased by 38%.

– Milk powder: 36% more

– And eggs became 35% more expensive

The average national price of a food basket containing the most basic elements (beans, corn, salt, etc.) has increased by 48 percent since December 2021. In addition, the cost of food imports is rising sharply due to exchange rate fluctuations. Yemen’s national currency, the rial, has fallen by 28 percent since the beginning of the year.

Petrol and diesel prices also rose by 43% in the first quarter of the year. Higher fuel prices and an extreme drought have caused even more suffering, especially for farmers. Many Yemenis depend on agriculture and livestock, but have experienced crop failure or dwindling livestock due to drought.

As the need grows, the lack of financial resources has devastating consequences. The World Food Program was forced to cut aid: five million recipients of food aid will now receive less than half of their daily calorie needs. Eight million Yemenis will receive only a quarter of the planned aid.

Families told Oxfam that to survive they have to borrow from neighbours, run up debts to food suppliers and skip meals so their children have more to eat.

About 56% of the four million displaced people in Yemen have no source of income at all. Women and children, who make up around 77% of the displaced population, are most at risk of starvation.

Arwa, a divorced mother of two who also looks after her mother and sister, said: “The high prices make it difficult for me to buy basic food. My mother and I only eat two meals a day so that the children get enough. Earlier we could eat chicken or fish every other day, or red meat once a week, but now we can barely afford chicken once a week and the prices of vegetables have gone up so we can’t even afford half of what we eat. we used to eat.”

Oxfam in Yemen supports people to earn a living, provides basic services such as clean water, sanitation, cash and provides families and communities with solar energy. By 2021, Oxfam was able to help more than 23,000 families.

Oxfam is calling on the international community to facilitate food imports into Yemen, finance grain imports and provide Yemen with debt relief. Above all, the people of Yemen need an end to the conflict so they can live safely. Oxfam therefore calls on all parties to extend the ceasefire.


The percentage of grain imports: Yemen humanitarian response plan, April 2022

WFP statement, 4 July 2022

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