The Vital Role of Aden and Mukalla Sea Ports in the Yemeni Crisis


Sat, 26-03-2022 05:13 PM, Aden

Ahmed Bahakim (South24) 

The ports of Aden and Mukalla are essential and irreplaceable infrastructure in Yemen, especially in regard to the whole food supply chain. With Yemen on the verge of widespread starvation, the rehabilitation of the ports is more important than ever.

Yemen has been in conflict for seven years and is still suffering from one of the world's greatest persistent political, humanitarian, and development crises. It has also resulted in the need for humanitarian relief and protection for more than 80% of the entire population of 24 million people. The World Food Programme (WFP) now feeds approximately 12 million Yemenis, while 16 million are food insecure. Unfortunately, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) current's Acute Food Insecurity Analysis predicts that food insecurity will continue to worsen in the upcoming months ahead.

Yemen's extreme food insecurity and malnutrition situation has worsened further in 2022, with 17.4 million people (IPC Phase 3 and above) in need of help presently, rising to 19 million between June and December. The 31,000 individuals who are currently experiencing extreme hunger (IPC Phase 5 Catastrophe) are the most concerning, with the number expected to rise to 161,000 by June. In addition, by 2022, it is expected that 2.2 million children under the age of five, including 538,000 severely malnourished children, and 1.3 million pregnant and lactating women would suffer from acute malnutrition. For both food insecurity and acute malnutrition, the severity rises considerably throughout the projection period, with 86 districts shifting to higher IPC Phases, 82 of which rising from Phase 3 to Phase 4.

Because war is the primary cause of food insecurity, individuals are frequently unable to obtain the food they require to survive. The main factors of high food prices include unstable exchange rates, significant currency (Yemeni Riyal) changes, and difficulties obtaining financing, especially because 90% of Yemen's food is imported. Damaged infrastructure and restricted institutional capacity, worsened by the crisis, have raised transportation and logistical expenses at every level of the food supply chain, which are passed on directly to consumers. Yemen is on the verge of starvation owing of inflated food costs, not because it is scarce. Therefore, the international community must make a coordinated efforts to help.


• Ensure spare materials are available for the ports of Aden and Mukalla
• Obtain tugboats for the Mukalla Port.
• Ensure that specialists and spare parts are accessible.
• Make and carry out master plans.
• Develop maintenance, personal safety, and working environment training programs.
• Ensure that commodity price hikes come to a halt.
Long delivery delays and growing costs are the result of 90% of Yemen's food being imported through the country's badly maintained, war-damaged ports. The fear of hunger is becoming more serious for millions of Yemenis as food, gasoline, and medication become increasingly costly and difficult to procure for the average Yemeni. According to the UN, over 16 million Yemenis more than half of the population would go hungry this year, with around 50,000 already suffering in famine-like conditions. This is not due to a scarcity of food, but rather to the high cost of imported goods, which has driven up market prices, making easily accessible food unaffordable to the typical Yemeni.

The UN welcomed specialists from the Port of Rotterdam and Solid Port Solutions to conduct damage and capacity assessments in the ports of Aden and Mukalla. However, experts spent two weeks visiting Port Authorities and physical locations to identify and explain the present operating problems. Problems included the absence of overarching strategic plans, restricted access to critical equipment, infrastructure, and spare parts, limited preventative and corrective maintenance, a lack of training and staff capacity building, and high war risk insurance premiums that are directly transferred to the cost of food, all of which were exacerbated by the ongoing conflict. Transportation costs, such as shipping, insurance, and demurrage, account for 50% of the cost of a kilogram of wheat.

Because containers are offloaded before inspection and loaded onto another ship before arriving in Yemen, the current inspections regime doubles the cost of transporting for each container. In addition, shipping companies are charged 16 times higher for war risk insurance premiums than they would be for any other location. Expert advice is crucial for achieving future investing goals. Immediate involvement might help ensure that ports stay open, or even improve, allowing important commercial and humanitarian commodities to reach Yemenis, reducing the number of people facing starvation, famine, and humanitarian crises.

Unfortunately, if a country's fundamental infrastructure is lacking, it will be impossible to provide the food, humanitarian help, and building materials required to reconstruct after a lengthy conflict in a timely, cost-effective, and trustworthy manner. We expect that the evaluation would help to speed up the rebuilding of critical infrastructure. Yemen's ports could better manage a rising number of ships with more investment in training and infrastructure, lowering prices and expanding access to essential goods for all Yemenis. If this is achieved, the peace-building effort may be given top priority, ensuring a brighter future for all Yemenis.

Perhaps, if ports infrastructure is fixed and enhanced, and vessel waiting periods are decreased, the humanitarian crisis might be greatly alleviated. Therefore, With the assistance of the UN and the international community, investing in the ports, their upkeep, and infrastructure may make a significant contribution to Yemen's famine response. Consequently, it can cut the cost of food entering the country with these initiatives, making food more accessible for all Yemenis all over the country. 

Energy researcher 
Photo: Aden port (local media)

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