Cen­tral bank move ham­pers Ye­men wheat im­ports: UN

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Wheat im­ports into rebel ar­eas of Ye­men have be­come dif­fi­cult af­ter the cen­tral bank moved from the in­sur­gent-con­trolled cap­i­tal, a UN of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day, in a war-torn coun­try heav­ily de­pen­dent on food im­ports. “Four ma­jor im­porters of wheat into this coun­try have in­formed the au­thor­i­ties (in Sanaa) that as of Jan­uary they will no longer be able to ful­fil their obli­ga­tions,” said the UN hu­man­i­tar­ian co­or­di­na­tor in Ye­men.

“We know it is very dif­fi­cult for these im­porters to get lines of credit on the open mar­ket,” Jamie McGoldrick said, “be­cause the cen­tral bank is no longer here in Sanaa”.

Pres­i­dent Abedrabbo Man­sour Hadi in Septem­ber de­cided to move the cen­tral bank from the rebel-held cap­i­tal to Aden, the tem­po­rary base of his gov­ern­ment, af­ter ac­cus­ing the in­sur­gents of run­ning down Ye­men’s for­eign re­serves. Even be­fore a Saudi-led coali­tion launched air strikes against the Huthi rebels in Ye­men in March 2015, Ye­men im­ported 90 per­cent of its food, and as much as 95 per­cent of its wheat, ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions. McGoldrick also said the im­ports of goods and medicine had been ham­pered by slow of­fload­ing due to dam­age at the rebel-held port of Hodeida on the Red Sea.

UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien said in Oc­to­ber that “smashed cranes” at the port were hin­der­ing the en­try of aid sup­plies to ease a de­te­ri­o­rat­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in Ye­men. The Huthis and troops loyal to for­mer pres­i­dent Ali Ab­dul­lah Saleh over­ran Sanaa in Septem­ber 2014 and went on to seize other ar­eas of the coun­try. A UN re­port re­leased in Au­gust found that the rebels and their al­lies were di­vert­ing about $100 mil­lion a month from the cen­tral bank, and that its for­eign re­serves had dwin­dled to $1.3 bil­lion from about $4 bil­lion in Novem­ber 2014.

The re­lo­ca­tion of the bank has been a ma­jor blow to the rebels, forc­ing them to halt salary pay­ments to state em­ploy­ees in the ar­eas of the coun­try they con­trol.

UN agen­cies in June warned that vir­tu­ally all of Ye­men was fac­ing se­vere food short­ages with seven mil­lion peo­ple in an “emer­gency” si­t­u­a­tion.

— AFP

SANAA: UN hu­man­i­tar­ian co­or­di­na­tor in Ye­men Jamie McGoldrick holds a press con­fer­ence in the cap­i­tal Sanaa yes­ter­day.

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