Traders in Yemen have stopped wheat imports due to a crisis at the central bank according to documents seen by Reuters. Trade and aid sources say the situation was compounded in September when Yemen’s exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi ordered the central bank’s headquarters to be moved from the capital Sana’a, controlled by Houthi rebels in the north, to the southern port of Aden. The move came after $5 billion went missing from the central bank when it was under Houthi control.
A letter from 30 November addressed to Yemen’s trade ministry in Sana’a from the Fahem Group, one of the largest traders in Yemen, said: “We would like to inform you that we have been unable to conduct any new contracts for wheat as local banks cannot transfer dollars for the value of any wheat cargoes.”
The company said it wanted to continue importing wheat to cover the population’s needs but was unable to.
Bread forms a major part of people’s diet in Yemen.
Even before the move, the central bank, aiming to shore up dwindling foreign currency, had stopped providing guarantees for importers, leaving them to finance shipments themselves.