Yemen is on course to become the world’s poorest country if the war continues, according to a UN report.
“If fighting continues through 2022, Yemen will rank the poorest country in the world, with 79 percent of the population living under the poverty line and 65 percent classified as extremely poor,” according to the United Nations Development Programme report published on Wednesday.
Already the poorest country among Arab states, poverty in Yemen will have jumped from 47 per cent of the population in 2014 to a projected 75 per cent by the end of 2019. The UN has previously described Yemen as the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis”.
“Not only has the war made Yemen the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, it has plunged it into a harrowing development crisis too,” UNDP Yemen’s resident representative, Auke Lootsma, said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The ongoing crisis is threating to make Yemen’s population the poorest in the world – a title the already suffering country cannot afford.”
In the absence of conflict, Yemen could have made progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, the global framework for combating poverty agreed in 2015 with the target date of 2030, the report said.
The report referred to the disruption of markets and institutions and the destruction of social and economic infrastructure, noting that the GDP per capital fell from $3,577 to $1,950, a level not seen in Yemen since before 1960.
Impoverished Yemen has remained in a state of civil war since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched a massive air campaign aimed at reversing Houthi military gains and shoring up Yemen’s embattled government.
According to UN officials, more than 90,000 people have been killed in the war, while more than 11 per cent of the country’s population has been displaced.