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Protests in Yemen's Aden as currency value slashes


Xinhua
13 Jan 2021

© Provided by Xinhua | Scores of Yemeni people take to the streets in the country's southern port city of Aden on Jan. 13, 2021 protesting against the sharp deterioration of their national currency. (Xinhua/Murad Abdo)

Yemenis protest in Aden against the sharp deterioration of their national currency.

ADEN, Yemen, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Scores of Yemeni people took to the streets in the country's southern port city of Aden on Wednesday protesting against the sharp deterioration of their national currency.

In different neighborhoods of Aden, protesters burned tyres and blocked main roads, forcing many business stores to shut down.

The protest organizers demanded the newly power-sharing government based in Aden to begin with urgent economic reforms in order to curb the currency's sharp devaluation.

© Provided by Xinhua | Internally displaced children stand next to their tent in Hajjah Province, northern Yemen, on Jan. 12, 2021. (Photo by Mohammed Al-Wafi/Xinhua)

"We haven't got salaries for about four months and now the currency devaluation multiplied our suffering," a protester named Ahmed Mahmud told Xinhua.

"It's very difficult for the ordinary people, including the employees, with limited income to live without salaries amid the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities," said Mahmud.

Earlier in the day, all the commercial banks and exchange companies operating in the southern port city of Aden closed their doors after the sharp devaluation of the local currency against major foreign currencies.

In the street markets in Aden, where the Saudi-backed government is officially based, 1 U.S. dollar was traded for 790 riyals, up from 215 riyals compared with the rate before the war's eruption in 2015.

The sharp decline in the Yemeni currency's value started to severely affect the people who are already coping with the deteriorated situation caused by the years-long war.

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in Yemen warned in Dec. 2020 that the riyal had lost 250 percent of its value since the start of the war in 2015, which has led to an increase in food prices by 140 percent.

In 2017, the Yemeni government floated the national currency, a move that economic observers and analysts said was not well-studied a year after the relocation of the Central Bank to Aden.

The Yemeni economy is continuing to suffer after all exports were halted following a blockade on the country, which was part of a Saudi-led military intervention in March 2015. The blockade has also restricted imports largely.

All investments, including oil and gas projects, whose revenues used to contribute more than 70 percent of the state budget, were shut down.

Flow of foreign cash has stopped almost completely and widespread corruption within the government institutions is among problems deepening economic misery.

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