Agnes Varraine-Leca/MSF

Houthis import banned cancer-causing Israeli pesticides


Mon, 22-04-2024 09:34 PM, Aden

Sanaa (South24) 

Two documents issued by the unrecognized, Sanaa-based Houthi government’s Ministry of Agriculture revealed an increase in cancer cases in areas under the group’s control in North Yemen, following the import of millions of liters of pesticides through the port of Hodeidah.

The first memorandum signed by the Houthi government’s Minister of Agriculture, Abdulmalik Qasim Al-Thawr, indicates that between July 19, 2023, and January 15, 2024, more than 5 million liters of pesticides were imported, correlating with a rise in cancer cases. The memorandum described this amount as "enormous."

The second memorandum revealed that during the year 2023, 14,465,888 liters of pesticides were imported - double the amount of pesticides authorized to enter Yemen in previous years, according to the memorandum.

The Houthi Minister of Agriculture, Abdulmalik Qasim, addressed these two memorandums to the Undersecretary for the Agricultural Services Sector, Dhaif Allah Mohammed Shamlan, requesting that he stop granting any import permits for pesticides, and quickly dispose of pesticides stored in warehouses.

Qasim requested that Shamlan reship the banned pesticides, which are stored in containers at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, to the country of origin and warned him of the repercussions of allowing them to be unloaded and distributed. Press sources confirmed the authenticity of the two documents.

Although the two memorandums did not clarify the types of pesticides or their origins, another memorandum issued by the Sanaa customs office in November 2023 referred to an incident in which Houthi militants raided customs and released a shipment of the insecticide methyl bromide, of which a third of the world’s supply is exported from Israel.

That memorandum included details of an armed raid led by the Houthi rescue forces, ‘Abu Badr al-Marani’, which hail from Saada, on the customs headquarters to release a truck loaded with methyl bromide belonging to a company owned by Daghsan, a merchant with close ties to the Houthis.

The document indicated that the shipment did not collect customs duties or other fees, nor did it have the necessary permits from the Ministry of Agriculture and relevant authorities, as it contained prohibited pesticides.

In a video on X, Nasr al-Din Amer, the deputy head of the Houthi Media Authority, acknowledged the issue of toxic pesticides and their import. Amer described the measures needed to address the problem and claimed they are being implemented by the Houthi government.

However, the Houthi leader said that the raids on Yemen are a major cause of the cancer outbreak in Yemen, along with pesticides. He said: "The weapons used to bomb us cause cancer, not just pesticides."

Methyl bromide is a lethal pesticide that is controlled under the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, which was agreed upon in 1985 and entered into force in 1988, and the Montreal Protocol, which came into effect in 1989.

Yemen signed the two agreements in 1995. Since the signing of the two agreements, developed countries began banning the use of methyl bromide, while the period of reducing its use in developing countries ended in 2010.

Human exposure to this pesticide causes damage to the nervous system. It also attacks and harms the ozone layer, allowing more ultraviolet rays to pass through to Earth, which can increase the risk of skin cancer in humans.

In April 2021, the ‘Regain Yemen’ initiative, which specializes in tracking the Houthis’ economic and financial activities, revealed 11 companies licensed by the Houthis within the commercial group of merchant Daghsan Ahmed Daghsan, who hails from Saada.

These companies work in oil, medicine and medical supplies trading, tobacco production, money transfers, and imports and exports.

According to Regain Yemen, the Houthis use these companies for exporting and smuggling specialized fertilizers used for making explosives, transfering money, and importing oil derivatives.

It is believed that the activity of these companies and other companies affiliated with Houthi leaders has increased since 2023 with the easing of restrictions imposed on the port of Hodeidah.

South24 Center

YemenNorth YemenPesticidesHodeidahSanaaIsraelImportExportHouthisCancerDeath