Yemen, importing food is a matter of life and death. But that process is being hampered because the Central Bank is slow to finance imports. Though perhaps that should be banks. In a country torn apart by conflict, the Central Bank is also divided. One head office in the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa, another in Aden, home to the internationally recognized government.
In July Saudi Arabia agreed a $2 billion loan with Aden, giving Yemeni importers access to dollars to buy food. But an Aden Central Bank document from November says only a little over $170 million had been authorized for payment. The bank says that is now $340 million. Reuters' Jonathan Saul.
>> If the importers aren't able to access foreign currency, that means that, first of all, the goods are not available. But also it's increasing inflation in the economy. And that means for ordinary people, the actual value of money, if they have any money left, gets less and less.
We've seen prices also rising for goods, so they're being hampered on all fronts.
>> The cash hold up is blamed on bureaucracy. But it's also because most trading companies are located in the Houthi-controlled north, complicating access to the southern Central Bank's funds. Also in the north is the ports where most goods enter the country. The main one, Hudaydah, where since Tuesday a truce has been in place.
>> It at least provides a window of what may be possible. But there are so many difficulties, and there are so many divisions, that it's gonna be increasingly difficult to translate the truce into something more deep and meaningful. One of which is, and this is something that the IMF has been urging, is greater cooperation and consolidation between the two Central Banks, which would alleviate not just the humanitarian crisis, but also payment problems being faced.
That's a long way off. Underscoring all this is a population sliding towards famine. Their situation won't improve until imports can flow again into Yemen.