By Middle East Affairs
In Yemen, there are more than 2 million starving and malnourished, while 18 million of the country’s 29 million people lack regular access to food since the war between Iranian backed Houthi invaded the country, three and half years ago.
The fighting between the Houthi and Yemen’s government forces have cost Yemen’s agriculture more than $10 million along with the destruction of the country’s infrastructure and have left 40 % of the people jobless.
Attending the Near East Regional Conference at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, Othman Hussein Faid Mujali, Yemen’s minister of agriculture and irrigation, said that the start of the coup in September 2014 was the worst day in history for Yemen and its people.
“The Houthis have destroyed all that Yemen has achieved. They made the whole country bleed. Transport, services, health, education, water, electricity — all added to our indignity.” said Mujali to the conference attendees and to the world.
Yemen is a mainly agricultural country with 70% of the population working in agriculture, but because of the war their crops have been destroyed and almost no irrigation channels remain.
Mujali pleated for veterinary assistance so Yemen could have a chance to save its dying and starving livestock who in turn provide for its people. The country needs resources to start its way to reconstruction said Mujali.
Deputy executive director of the World Food Program (WFP), Amir Abdullah who also spoke in Rome, said,“It seems impossible to lay the foundations for the future in such conditions, but that’s what we must do.”
Lebanon a neighboring country has also been gravely affected by the war in Yemen.
Ghazi Zeaiter, minister for agriculture for Lebanon said “Lebanon is directly affected by the war in Syria. Seven years after it started, we are hosting 1.5 million displaced Syrians, half of them children. This is on top of 34,000 Palestinians displaced from Syria and 277,000 Palestinians who were already in Lebanon,” Zeaiter said.
Being in proximity to two wars and several other conflicts including Palestine’s occupation, Lebanon has absorbed more refugees than any other country in the world. This has cost the country $18 billion over the last few years and diminished its exports by 31 %.
The war in Syria has created impossible conditions for Lebanon’s exports which used to travel through the country to the Gulf, roughly 85 % of its exports used this route. Unable to export at its previous level, Lebanon is even at a further loss since they had to increase its import budget by 18 %.
Poverty and food insecurity have spread to Lebanon’s borders as well, Zeaiter says, “Thirty-two percent of Lebanese now live below the poverty line and 10 percent of households are food-insecure.”
Times of war have led the way to weaker border controls resulting in an influx of pest infestation with open-grazing and higher pollution of soil and underground water sources.
Food and Agriculture Organization regional program leader for the Near East and North Africa, Pasquale Steduto in an interview to Arab News, said that with strained resources a war over water could be on the horizon.
Steduto said, “The gap between water supply and demand is widening. It is accelerating and accelerating rapidly.” Water in the Middle East is dangerously reaching its limit.