Yemen in the shadow of Russia’s war against Ukraine

On April 1, 2022, the warring parties in Yemen agreed to a two-month ceasefire mediated by the United Nations. On April 7, under the auspices of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Yemeni President Hadi handed over power to a presidential council by uniting forces opposed to the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels to facilitate talks between the two warring factions. The Saudi blockade on fuel imports was lifted and the Houthi-controlled Sanaa would be allowed limited commercial flights. The two Gulf states have also deposited ৩ 3 billion in Yemen’s central bank.

It is a welcome respite for Yemen, which the United Nations has called the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The war, now in its eighth year, has recently escalated. Since January 2022, the Saudi alliance has pushed back Houthi advances in Marib and Shabwa provinces, and even most civilian infrastructure and facilities in the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been attacked by missiles and drones linked to Iranian aid. Coalition airstrikes hit Sana’a, the main port of Hodeidah, and other areas, causing significant civilian casualties. A recurring tragedy since 2015.

The toll on the country and its people has been terrible. In January 2022 alone, there were 650 civilian casualties, The highest number in three years, including a Saudi coalition airstrike on a white prison, killing and injuring more than 300 people. The sanctions imposed on Yemen by Saudi air and sea blockade were in their seventh year, with further restrictions on Saudi Arabia’s fuel imports from January 2021 worsening the humanitarian situation. The worst affected are health and education facilities, which were already in dire straits. Half of Yemen’s hospitals are out of commission and more than 2 million children are out of school. Damaged health system and loss of water and sanitation The benefits have led to the rapid spread of diseases such as cholera, diphtheria, measles, polio and dengue. The United Nations Development Program says 36,000 people have been killed in the war150,000 are directly involved in war and the rest are involved in hunger and disease. Most of the victims were children.

Of Yemen’s 30 million people, 24 million are under Huthi rule. The rest is under the control of the government and the smaller numbers are under various groups, including the UAE-backed group, which opposes both the Houthis and the government. About 17.3 million Yemenis need food aid – a number that will increase to 19 million next month. By December 2022, approximately 7.3 million hungry people may be in critical condition. The World Food Program (WFP) says 5 million are at risk of starvation-like conditions. About 2.2 million children are malnourished, including more than 500,000 with life-threatening acute malnutrition. About 1.3 million pregnant or lactating mothers are severely malnourished. About 70 percent of Yemen – 20.7 million – rely on humanitarian aid for survival. It is estimated that 80 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, with some two-thirds living in extreme poverty.

Russia’s war against Ukraine is likely to make the tragedy worse. Both countries together account for 30-40 percent of Yemen’s wheat imports. For Yemen, which imports 95 percent of its total demand, that would mean higher prices for grain, especially wheat, but also for fuel and fertilizers. Food prices in Yemen have already doubled by 2021, and according to the International Commission of the Red Cross (ICRC), they Ukraine has seen a 150 percent increase since the war began. With the Black Sea effectively shutting down and most of the Black Sea wheat moving to the Middle East, rising wheat prices will also have an impact on regional stability. Wheat prices internationally It has increased by 25-30 percent since the war began And local markets like Yemen continue to reach historic heights with big spikes. Of concern, Ukraine is unlikely to return soon as a major agricultural exporter. The planting season is already here, and a good portion of Ukraine remains extremely dangerous to engage in agriculture, with many farmers either struggling or displaced.

The war in Ukraine means that donor funds will become scarce, even as the focus of donors in Yemen has already weakened. For example, Germany will spend more on defense And less aid to Ukrainian refugees and elsewhere. Just months after WFP cut food rations for 8 million Yemenis, only $ 1.3 billion was pledged, compared to the 2 4.2 billion requested at the Yemen Donors Conference on March 16. Although 36 countries have pledged funds, Including the US (585 million), EU countries ($ 407 million), and the UK (115 million)This was the sixth year that Yemen’s humanitarian response plan failed to fully fund.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which will pay $ 350 million and $ 230 million, respectively, in 2021, have not pledged this year, but the recent ceasefire means only an additional এখন 3 billion now deposited in the Presidential Council-controlled central bank. 300 million humanitarian assistance has been provided.

Funding is available in the global financial system to support needy populations and encourage peaceful solutions. In 2021, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a new allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to address the COVID-19 crisis. The influx of additional $ 650 billion in reserves into central banks is a significant incentive, especially for poor countries. However, the lion’s share of the funds allocated on the basis of IMF shares of each country will go to the rich countries which do not really need them.

There have been calls for the deployment of these funds to stem the rise in food and fuel prices In risky countries. A model could be for rich countries to lend their SDR allocations Zero interest rates in risky countries through IMF clearances, poverty reduction and growth trusts. Other methods, such as directing these funds to the World Bank’s clearance-International Development Agency, are also possible. Although nothing has happened yet, the G-20 and G-7 have pledged to channel আর 100 billion in SDR to developing countries. There is funding, as there are millions of vulnerable people — to bring the two together and reduce the potential catastrophic impact of Russia’s war against Yemen and elsewhere in Ukraine.

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