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Shifting frontlines of conflict and currency depreciation further aggravate food security situation

  • Key Message Update
  • Yemen
  • November 2021
Shifting frontlines of conflict and currency depreciation further aggravate food security situation

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Conflict re-escalated in Al Hudaydah and Taizz governorates as forces of the Internationally-Recognized Government (IRG) gained territory in November. This followed the peaceful withdrawal of IRG forces from Al Hudaydah City, Ad Durayhimi, Bayt Al Faqiah and most of At Tuhayta districts, with forces of the Sana’a-Based Authorities (SBA) taking control of these areas. However, conflict erupted along new front lines after IRG troops deployed south. According to OCHA reporting, over 15,000 individuals had been newly displaced from Al Hudaydah governorate as of November 22. Intensified ground fighting in Hays district is also resulting in recurring closures of the only remaining major south-north commercial route. Prolonged closure would likely have severe humanitarian consequences, as it would cut off supply of commercial goods from Aden to the north and cause disruptions to assistance delivery.

    • High levels of conflict continued to displace households in Marib in November as front lines shifted closer to Marib City. According to UNHCR, 40,000 individuals have been newly displaced in Marib since September. Some have been displaced five times since the start of the conflict in 2015.

    • Despite control measures imposed by the Central Bank of Yemen in Aden in recent months—including the temporary closure of some exchange shops—the Yemeni rial (YER) has continued its trajectory of rapid depreciation in areas under IRG control, reaching 1,600 YER/USD (selling rate) in Aden as of November 27, 2021. This rate is 24 percent higher than on October 27 and 89 percent higher than in January 2021. In areas under SBA control, the rial has remained stable at around 600 YER/USD since January 2020. 

    • In November 2021, the association of ovens and bakeries in Aden raised the price of bread (the staple food for the majority of urban households) by 67 percent, from 30 YER to 50 YER per bread, citing rising production costs including high prices of wheat flour. As an immediate action, the governor of Aden supported 73 bakeries across Aden governorate with subsidies for wheat flour. However, where bread was sold at 30 YER each, long queues and rushes were reported, as the limited quantities of subsidized bread were insufficient to meet the needs of households. Across IRG areas, bakers have been reducing the size of bread and increasing prices. This has further constrained households’ ability to meet their food needs and is expected to be driving a growing number to skip meals or reduce the size of meals.      

    • On November 17, IRG authorities again raised official petrol prices, this time by 21 percent, from 17,800 to 21,800 YER/20L. While petrol is available at official stations in IRG areas, diesel is currently available only in private/commercial stations at higher unofficial prices (24,000 YER/20L). Repeated fuel price increases in IRG areas throughout 2021 have roughly doubled transportations costs. According to key informants, many households are struggling to afford their children’s education costs, while others have decided to walk to work. Meanwhile, in SBA-controlled areas, fuel has remained available in official and private stations through late November, without any further increase in prices.  

    • According to WFP reporting, the already above-average cost of the Minimum Food Basket (MFB) has increased by 91 percent in areas under IRG control and by 30 percent in areas under SBA control from January to October 2021. In IRG areas, declining purchasing power is worsening the severity of acute food insecurity and is increasing the vulnerability of many additional households to shocks such as displacement and price increases. Throughout the projection period, widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely to continue at the governorate level, in the presence of large-scale food assistance, with worst-affected households likely to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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