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In a report tackling the impacts of the war on Yemen, Sudarsan Raghavan wrote for the Washington Post that in Yemen, it’s not just the impoverished who are suffering.

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factory-yemen

The war is also decimating the small but essential middle class, eroding the backbone of an economy that was already the region’s poorest and most dysfunctional before the violence erupted 21 months ago.

The air strikes have targeted nearly every industry, erasing countless jobs and dreams. An air, sea and land blockade by neighboring Saudi Arabia has made fuel and food scarcer, causing prices to skyrocket in a nation that imports 90 per cent of its food and medicine.

A banking crisis has added to the turmoil, leaving government workers unpaid and harming businesses.

Yemen’s economic plight mirrors that of other nations gripped by war and political uncertainty after the Arab Spring uprisings more than five years ago.

A recent UN survey found that the upheavals have cost the region $614bn in lost growth since 2011.

More than 200 businesses have been damaged or destroyed by air strikes since the war began, including dozens of factories and warehouses, according to the Sanaa Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Yemen’s economy shrank by 34.6 per cent last year, according to UN estimates, and is expected to contract an additional 11 per cent this year.

The seaport in Hodeidah, where much of what north-western Yemen imports and humanitarian aid arrives, was attacked by the Saudi aggression, disabling giant cranes and other equipment.

The damage, coupled with the blockade, delays shipments of necessary goods by months sometimes.

Meanwhile, the banking crisis has made business transactions nearly impossible. Western banks are unwilling to extend credit, and the Central Bank of Yemen stopped providing guarantees to importers, leaving them to self-finance shipments.

The situation worsened in September in which importers are now unable to readily acquire foreign currency that was already scarce, and 1.2 million public employees are no longer being paid.

“The air strikes, de facto blockade and collapse of the central bank have together precipitated the near-total collapse of Yemen’s economy,” said Scott Paul, a senior humanitarian policy adviser for the aid agency Oxfam America.

“These steps show that all of the main parties are willing to wage economic warfare and risk tremendous suffering by ordinary people in order to advance their positions.

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