A Redditor in Yemen’s capital city of Sana’a claims to be buying food packages for families who have been unable to acquire supplies due to the ongoing civil war, this was made possible due to bitcoin donations he received.
According to a Reddit post from user yemenvoice on Sept. 23, the Yemeni has raised almost $12,000 in bitcoin donations to help battle malnutrition in the Middle Eastern country.
They claim to have donated flour, rice, oil, and beans to 15 households and expect to reach out to another 30 in the near future.
“I have tried everything I can to serve my countrymen in every way I can,” yemenvoice remarked. “I attempted to set up online contribution campaigns, but all online donation platforms, sadly, do not support Yemen. As a result, I considered using bitcoins as an alternative, and it turned out to be a lot easier and more effective.”
Yemen’s civil war began in 2014, with a Saudi-led coalition of soldiers responding to ousted president Abd-Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s plea for aid.
Since March 2015, Yemen has been under an air, land, and sea blockade, leaving millions of Yemenis in need of basic essentials.
According to David Beasley, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme, 16 million people in Yemen are “on the verge of hunger,” with food supplies already at critical levels – including 400,000 children under the age of five, according to a second report.
Yemenvoice claims to have used cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Dogecoin (DOGE), and Nano to “break the siege” and send monies into the country to buy supplies (NANO).
“[I] received donations, then transferred from my wallet to the wallets of merchants or the exchange company (we have only one company that accepts Bitcoin), then I bought these food packages, as you can see, and distributed them to the elderly, single mothers and orphans, although there is no difference between young or old, everyone is starving.”
Yemenvoice’s addresses have received around $600 in BTC, $1 in BCH, and $64 in NANO, according to blockchain records, but the Redditor said they had received $12,000 in crypto, $3,000 of which has already been used “to pay medical expenses, buy medicines, pay rent, and buy food.” They tried to exchange the remaining $9,000 on Binance but claimed to have lost virtually all of it.
“I consider the money I lost to be a debt to others, and I want to repay it even if it means selling one of my cars,” the Redditor explained.
yemenvoice claimed to have chosen those in need and “paid them wherever I found them,” yet the tale and usage of the monies could not be independently verified. Many Reddit users voiced support for the initiative but wondered how crypto could be used effectively in a country like Yemen.
“If I transfer a certain amount of Bitcoin, they pay me the equivalent in local currency in exchange for the dollar, and then I buy and distribute these goods,” yemenvoice explained.
“Shortly, store proprietors in Yemen will be transacting in Bitcoin rather than dollars or even the indigenous currency. Especially now that living conditions are deteriorating and the Yemeni riyal is collapsing.”
While one Redditor’s efforts appear to be leveraging cryptocurrencies as a force for good, others operating in different countries have circumvented US or UN restrictions by relying on cryptocurrency donations.
Authorities in Venezuela went so far as to implicitly support the usage of cryptocurrency as a way to circumvent different restrictions imposed on the country.