Key Message Update: Conflict incidents continue in Yemen in January despite Stockholm Agreement, January 2019
FEWS NET estimates that approximately 17 million people in Yemen would be in need of urgent action (IPC Phase 3 or higher) in the absence of ongoing humanitarian food assistance. Sa’ada and Hajjah governorates are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), which is associated with large food consumption gaps and/or extreme depletion of livelihood assets. Of the remaining governorates in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), six would be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in the absence of ongoing assistance.
Conflict has continued in Yemen during January, including in Hajjah, Sa’ada, and Al Hudaydah governorates, although diplomatic reports indicate that the major parties to conflict remain committed to implementing the Stockholm Agreement reached in mid-December. However, the potential for conflict to intensify near Al Hudaydah City and its ports remains concerning. For example, two silos containing large quantities of humanitarian wheat in Al Hudaydah City and that have been inaccessible since September 2018 were reportedly damaged by mortar fire in January 2019.
The Yemeni Rial depreciated slightly against the U.S. Dollar in January 2019, following significant improvements in the exchange rate in late 2018. Wheat flour prices were generally stable or increased slightly in January 2019 and initial reports indicate that fuel prices have continued to decrease. Despite these improvements, FEWS NET’s most likely scenario assumes the Yemeni economy will be unable to generate sufficient foreign exchange. As such, the Yemeni Rial is likely to continue its depreciation in the coming months and staple food prices will continue to increase.
Between December 2018 and January 2019, large areas will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), as large-scale assistance prevents a deterioration to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in many areas. In the most likely scenario, humanitarian food assistance will continue through early 2019 and large areas will remain in Crisis through May 2019. In a worst-case scenario, significant declines in commercial imports and conflict that cuts populations off from trade and humanitarian food assistance for an extended period could lead to Famine (IPC Phase 5).