World Bulletin / News Desk
Merchant vessels are taking weeks to deliver vital food supplies to Yemen as Saudi-led coalition warships search for arms bound for Iran-allied Houthi fighters and heavy fighting disrupts shipments in a worsening humanitarian crisis.
The conflict has hurt imports to Yemen, where about 20 million people or 80 percent of the population, are estimated to be going hungry.
The Arabian peninsula's poorest country, Yemen imports more than 90 percent of its food, including most of its wheat and all its rice - most of it by sea. It faces increasing problems as many shipping companies have pulled out and those still willing to bring cargoes in face a long wait to get navy clearance.
The prospect of a humanitarian emergency has added to international pressure on Saudi Arabia to bring its military campaign to a close.
Riyadh is leading a coalition in support of exiled president Abd-Rabbu Mansour al-Hadi against the Houthis, who have emerged as the country's most powerful force since seizing the capital last year.
Before the fighting, entering and discharging at Yemen's ports would have taken a few days at most. Picking up deliveries from the ports is also taking longer now as logistical networks are increasingly strained by the violence and fuel shortages.
At least 10 merchant ships carrying wheat and other food commodities are still waiting offshore to discharge at Yemen's functioning ports of Salif and Hodaida on the Red Sea - some of them stuck for at least two weeks, according to ship and port tracking data, and confirmed by industry sources.
Three vessels carrying corn, rice and other foodstuffs were currently discharging in Hodaida and Salif - a process that took weeks for some, tracking data showed. While two other ships - both carrying wheat - had waited for over 10 days before being diverted to other destinations, data showed.
"It will remain slow and complex to bring ships into Yemen for some time to come," an international commodities trade source said. "There is no timeframe for how long you can wait before getting clearance, and the fighting inside Yemen is getting worse ever day. On top of that there are payment hiccups. This is a high risk trade."
Trade sources said Hodaida port was operating at a slower capacity as many foreign workers had fled, which was hampering operations.Güncelleme Tarihi: 07 Mayıs 2015, 17:44