Ukraine war: Commercial wheat imports from India key supply line for Yemen, says top UN official

Joint Secretary (UNP) in the Ministry of External Affairs Prakash Gupta told the UN Security Council briefing on Yemen on Monday that in order to mitigate the supply changes in the global commodity markets and their adverse impact on food security, India has been providing financial assistance as well as supplying food grains to countries in need.

Ukraine war: Commercial wheat imports from India key supply line for Yemen, says top UN official
Commercial wheat imports from India have emerged as a key supply line for Yemen in the wake of the Ukraine war. (Representational image)

Commercial wheat imports from India have emerged as a key supply line for Yemen in the wake of the Ukraine war, the UN deputy relief chief said, as New Delhi stressed the need to ensure the civilian nature of the ports in the Hudaydah governorate from the food security perspective. Joint Secretary (UNP) in the Ministry of External Affairs Prakash Gupta told the UN Security Council briefing on Yemen on Monday that in order to mitigate the supply changes in the global commodity markets and their adverse impact on food security, India has been providing financial assistance as well as supplying food grains to countries in need.

“India has exported more than 2,50,000 tons of wheat to Yemen, in the last three months,” he said. In her remarks to the council, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Joyce Msuya acknowledged the wheat shipments from India providing a “key supply line for Yemen”, particularly in the wake of the Ukraine war.

“We are also encouraged by recent positive exchanges between the governments of Yemen and India on facilitating wheat exports from India. Commercial wheat imports from India have emerged as a key supply line for Yemen in the wake of the Ukraine war,” she said. Gupta thanked Msuya for acknowledging India’s contribution of providing wheat to Yemen in her briefing to the council. He further stressed it is also important to ensure the civilian nature of the ports in the Hudaydah governorate from the food security perspective, as these ports remain the main gateway for flow of food and other essential commodities into Yemen.

“In this regard, India supports a more effective mandate for the UN Mission to support the Hudaydah Agreement, which will enable the Mission to undertake monitoring missions to these ports and report on their possible use for military purposes,” he added. Msuya also noted that the Ukraine war is threatening the supply chains that bring in Yemen’s food – nearly 90 per cent of which must be imported.

“Last year, just under half of all wheat came from Russia and Ukraine. When those supplies were cut off in February, Yemeni importers moved quickly to find other sources,” she said, adding that rising global prices, diminished access to capital and other challenges are making it much harder for importers to keep those supply chains working.

On the UN-mediated two-month truce between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels announced in April, Gupta said the renewal of the nationwide truce has helped in considerably reducing hostilities at frontlines.“It is the responsibility of the relevant parties to ensure that the truce is upheld and converted into a durable and long-lasting ceasefire,” he said.

Gupta said while the truce is an opportunity to step up humanitarian aid to Yemen’s needy population, “We are witnessing scaling down of aid operations due to critical funding gaps, whose impact is further exacerbated by global inflation in commodity prices. The low level of funding, unless reversed quickly, could lead to further cuts to humanitarian aid in Yemen, including food aid.” He cautioned that this would leave millions of Yemenis, especially children, without adequate food and nutrition. He added that the full and meaningful implementation of all elements of the truce is critical for sustaining the truce.

“While progress has been achieved in the delivery of fuel at Hudaydah port and opening of Sana’a airport, the opening of roads in Taiz remains deadlocked. Yemenis have suffered for too long from the impact of road closures. Immediate progress in opening of arterial roads to these governates is an urgent humanitarian imperative,” Gupta said adding that India calls on Ansarallah to negotiate in good faith to urgently reach an agreement on this issue.He also expressed concern over the increasing number of attacks reportedly attributed to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Noting that AQAP is actively exploiting the conflict in Yemen, notwithstanding the truce and the changed military dynamics, Gupta said the group poses a significant threat to peace and stability in Yemen, across the region and beyond. He cautioned that the council must not lose focus of this threat. Emphasising that the nationwide truce and other recent developments in Yemen have raised the hopes of the people of Yemen that the years-long conflict could possibly end soon, he said, “We need to ensure that the Council does not let them down in this regard.” “The only sustainable solution to the conflict is a peacefully negotiated, Yemeni-led and Yemeni-owned political settlement that prioritizes the well-being of all Yemenis and meets their legitimate aspirations,” he added.

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