Yemeni diplomat describes water and power shortages
top Yemeni diplomat has described his country’s daily struggle with food, water and electricity shortages, as a result of fighting that has disrupted oil infrastructure and imports,
Vice Consul General Rafat Hassan Mohammed spoke about the challenges his people face after the United Nations last week said it will have to scale back aid due to severe funding problems.
It said 14 million people are in need of urgent food aid that the organisation can no longer afford to provide.
The UN’s World Food Programme currently supports about 3.5 million people, which it said would cost about $200 million to fund in the coming months.
“No one has enough food in any of the governorates, even in Sana’a,” Mohammed said of Yemen’s 21 governorates, during an interview with 7DAYS. “The situation is very difficult.” Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) is among the aid agencies working alongside coalition forces to distribute food in areas not controlled by Houthi forces, he said.
The Iranian-backed militia control eight of the 21 governorates.
He said Houthi forces, which forced the government from power in Sana’a last year, have imposed road blocks that are preventing the flow of aid into areas they control, such as the eastern city of Taiz.
“The ERC tried to help people in Taiz but the [Houthi] militia occupied the road and seized the food to give it to their own tribe,” Mohammed added.
“In some governorates like Aden, water doesn’t come every day. Sometimes it will come, then for two days it won’t.”
Arab Coalition forces are working with the Yemeni government to solve the critical food shortage.
“The Emiratis and the Saudis are discussing this issue with the Ministry in Saudi Arabia and the Prime Minister, Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr, is looking for a way to solve the problem”, he said.
Domestic oil production has long halted amid the fighting, causing a worsening electricity crisis.
“Electricity has been a problem in Yemen for a long time,” he said.
“We had about 5,000 gallons of petrol daily before the war, but now the petrol companies have stopped operating and their staff have been evacuated due to the fighting and the security situation.”
He said most are struggling with little power.
“It’s about three hours on, three hours off, with a maximum of about nine hours of electricity a day in most places.
“It’s harder in the south. Aden and Hodeidah get very hot in the summer without electricity or fans,” he said.
“Emirates [Red Crescent] is importing petrol into Yemen while Saudi Arabia has also imported in a lot of petrol in for free,” he said.”
Last week, the UN peace envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed appealed to all sides to finalise a peace deal as soon as possible.
“It is a critical moment in the peace talks,” he said. “It could go both ways, but we just hope it results in a positive outcome.”
THIRSTY: A Yemeni boy drinks from an outside tap. Water supplies have been unreliable for people living in many areas