Yemeni blockade’s unexpected consequences

Conflict’s impact felt widely in region.

Blockade of Yemeni Ports Has Unintended Consequences on Food Security, Somali Fishing Industry

By Sarah Glaser

Hundreds of Yemenis have been killed since Houthi rebels overthrew President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi at the beginning of April. The instability next door has led Saudi Arabia to intervene with a bombing campaign and, most recently, impose a blockade of Yemen’s port cities to cut off what they claim is Iranian resupply of rebels. Besides blocking weapons though, the blockade is also having a major impact on food security and food assistance, and is even affecting livelihoods in Somalia.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 10.6 million Yemenis are food insecure and nearly 5 million are facing emergency conditions characterized by malnutrition and lack of food access. The rapid escalation of fighting has increased domestic food prices and disrupted food markets.

But while most attention has been on terrestrial agriculture, the impact of fighting on marine fisheries is also a critical concern. My research with Cullen Hendrix shows, on average, the outbreak of civil conflict depresses fish catch by 16 percent in a given country. Events unfolding in the Gulf of Aden paint a complex picture of environmental security, how conflict affects those who depend on fisheries, and the potential for long-term repercussions.

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