Ye­meni diplo­mat de­scribes wa­ter and power short­ages

7 Days in Dubai - - SPECIAL REPORT - Shoshana Ke­dem. writes shoshana@7days.ae

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

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