Yemen: Exposing the Danger of Unchecked Importation of Pesticides

Sheba Intelligence | 2024-04-22 02:21 PM UTC


The lax control on pesticide importation to Yemen has been in the dark over the past few years. Merchants and smugglers capitalized on the war-created chaos and brought millions of liters of unlicensed pesticides. This has put the health of millions of Yemenis in peril.

Lately, a document by the Ansar Allah (Houthi)-controlled Customs Office was circulated on social media platforms, sparking a massive popular campaign against the use of pesticides in Yemen. The document revealed that a truck carrying a banned type of “poisonous” pesticide was allowed to enter Sanaa with support from senior figures of the Houthi authorities.

Though the document is dated December 2023, it was leaked to the local media this month.

The Houthi-appointed agriculture minister in Sanaa recently revealed in a document that over 14 million liters of pesticides were imported to Houthi-controlled areas in 2023. He said such a quantity of pesticides is massive, indicating that such a matter amounts to a crime against humanity.

Yemeni medical workers have warned of an increase in cancer cases in Yemen due to the entry of prohibited agricultural pesticides. The latest figures showed that the number of people infected with malignant tumors in all parts of Yemen increased to more than 43 thousand people in 2022. Ibb province topped the list with more than six thousand infected people.

Yemeni activists and doctors launched a campaign against the use and importation of banned pesticides, calling on all social groups to participate in this campaign. They said this issue does not threaten an individual or a group. Instead, every Yemeni is at risk when eating vegetables and fruits poisoned by carcinogenic pesticides.

A report by the Health Ministry in Sanaa stated that there are nine thousand new cases of cancer annually, 15 percent of which are children, pointing out that 12 thousand cases have died from this disease.

Observers say that the rate of cancer infections is higher in rural areas where many residents work in agriculture, accusing merchants of pesticides of spreading death in rural areas and villages intentionally through poisonous pesticides.

Moammar Al-Eryani, the information minister in the Yemeni government, said in a post on X that the Houthi group has “deliberately imported quantities of poisoned and carcinogenic pesticides into Yemen, causing an increase in the number of people suffering from cancer and other chronic diseases in areas under its control, in addition to its disastrous effects on the environment, soil, livestock and groundwater.”

According to Al-Eryani, Houthi leaders owned companies and used their influence to facilitate the entry of dangerous pesticides.

Houthi officials called for better regulation for the entry of pesticides into Yemen. A member of the Houthi Supreme Political Council, Mohammad Ali Al-Houthi, urged the Customs Authority to meet with the Ministry of Agriculture and the competent authorities in Sana’a to agree on the types of the needed pesticides and to modify the relevant law “to preserve the public interest”.