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Airstrike Destroys 2.5 Million-Egg Hatchery in Yemen Amid Fears of Famine

Local Editor

A bombed chicken farm, destroying a 2.5-million egg hatchery, has led to alarming warnings of an impending famine in Yemen as food supplies are increasingly a target.

Coastal fishing boats have also been destroyed, crippling the fishing industry, as the conflict in the Middle East nation spills into a second year and shows few signs of abating.

Aid agency Oxfam has warned Yemenis are being forced to scrounge for food, with four markets bombed this month alone. Pleas for emergency relief funds have also gone unfulfilled.

“It’s pretty desperate, there is a lot of pressure on our staff, a lot of people are down to one meal a day,” Jo Hutton, Oxfam’s regional program manager, told Fairfax Media.

Air strikes led by neighboring Saudi Arabia in support of forces loyal Hadi resulted in fuel shortages and damage to water storages, with fears the local economy could soon collapse.

Ms Hutton said explosions could be heard last week from air strikes on the outskirts of the capital Sana’a, although the strikes had been closer four months earlier. “It did feel very confronting while I was there,” Ms Hutton said, after returning to London last week.

Oxfam warns more than 13 million people are at risk and Yemen is only a step away from widespread famine, with 2.4 million already forced to flee their homes in a conflict rivaling the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Yemen is located at the mouth of the Red Sea, long considered a strategic gateway and scene of foreign interference. Ms Hutton said the most recent fighting has forced locals to borrow money to buy food, leaving people vulnerable and credit drying up.

It is also feared the central bank in Yemen will soon stop credit guarantees for importing wheat and other staples, with the country depending on imports for approximately 90 per cent of its food supply.

Wheat prices have spiked more than 50 per cent since January in areas such as Hajjah, north-west of the capital, Oxfam warns. “We feel like it is a critical emergency,” said Ms Hutton.

Food shipments have been blockaded as a result of the conflict, with a shortage of seeds as what should be the planting season looms. Foreign currency is also becoming scarce. Ms Hutton said Oxfam has around 220 local staff, with about 20 international workers in the country.

The aid group surveyed more than 250 people across Hajjah in February and found families feeding children before adults, with many forced to forage for food.

Sources: http://yemenwatch.net/

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