Mustafa Nasr, chairman of the Studies and Economic Media Center (SEMC), which has just released a new report on Yemen, confirmed that the economy has been in steady decline since war broke out. "The unprecedented depreciation of the Yemeni rial in September 2018 proved the most severe blow to the economy since the conflict began," he said. "For the first time, Yemenis watched documented reports of citizens eating plant leaves, in spite of the fact that more than $5 billion was spent on humanitarian relief operations over the past three years."

The loss in value has contributed to a sharp rise in commodity prices. SEMC data, gathered from six Yemeni governorates, including Aden, Taiz and Sanaa, showed that basic foodstuffs such as flour, sugar, rice, cooking oil and milk were 30 percent more expensive than in June 2018 and 92 percent more expensive than in September 2015.

As a result, local food suppliers have been forced to shut. "We cannot sell our goods under this incredible price of the dollar. All the food wholesalers on our street are closing until the exchange rate is fixed. We know that people are suffering, but we cannot risk the sale of goods in light of this collapse, as it puts us at risk in case we suffer setbacks or possibly bankruptcies," Abdul Razzaq al-Hababi, who owns a warehouse in Sanaa, explained.

War rages on

Despite the escalating humanitarian situation, fighting has continued between the warring sides and civilian deaths are mounting. In August, Saudi-led airstrikes killed 40 children at a market in the northern province of Saada, pushing the death toll of Yemenis to about 10,000 civilians. Independent watchdogs, however, say that number is likely to be much higher: figures haven't been updated in years.

Yemen is now split between the Houthis, who control the capital and cities in the north and northwest, while cities including Aden are run by the Saudi-backed exiled government.

Britain and the U.S. are being called on to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia, as evidence mounts that Western-made weapons are being used against Yemeni civilians.

Gouri Sharma & Mohamed Hussein

© Deutsche Welle 2018

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