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Smiling children stand outside holding boxes from the IRC, while adults converse in the background.
Citizens under siege

Yemen Crisis Watch

The International Rescue Committee provides lifesaving support to millions of people in Yemen affected by violent conflict and malnourishment. We provide emergency aid, clean water and medical care.

What's happening

  • Yemen is facing the largest humanitarian crisis in the world as 18 million people— over 60% of the population—are critically food insecure and require urgent humanitarian assistance.

  • Two years of brutal conflict has obstructed food imports, devastated livelihoods and prevented the delivery of aid.

  • To match the magnitude and extent of need, the Yemen Humanitarian Response plan, which is just 15% funded, needs to be fully resourced.

  • The IRC is calling for a political settlement to the conflict, which is the only way to protect civilians and avert famine.

  • The IRC is scaling up our emergency response across the region and calling for urgent increases in funding in order to save lives.

Read our latest statement
Country facts
  • Population: 28 million
  • People displaced by crisis: 3 million
  • Rank in Human Development Index: 168 of 188
IRC response
  • Started work in Yemen: 2012

Yemen crisis briefing

Yemen, located on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, is plagued by widespread violence, poverty and malnutrition, amounting to one of the world's most severe humanitarian crises. The IRC provides lifesaving assistance and emergency aid.

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What caused the current crisis in Yemen?

In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its allies began a military intervention in Yemen as part of an effort to unseat the rebel Houthis and restore former President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power. More than 7,000 people have been killed and 3.8 million uprooted as a result of this conflict, according to the U.N.

Even before the current crisis, Yemen’s malnutrition rate ranked as one of the world’s worst, and more than half of its population lacks access to drinking water. Yemen was also battered by its first-ever tropical cyclone in November 2015.

There have been several failed attempts to halt this conflict and safely provide aid to those in need. Yemen remains the Arab world’s poorest country.

What are the main humanitarian challenges in Yemen?

Over 80% of Yemen’s population is in need of emergency relief and humanitarian assistance.

Continued fighting prevents shipments of food and fuel from entering the country. Hospitals do not have diesel fuel to operate generators during power cuts, and ambulances have run out of petrol. Stocks of antibiotics and critical medical supplies have been depleted.

As the violence escalates, Yemen remains on the brink of catastrophe.

How does the IRC help in Yemen?

The IRC’s mission is to help people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and gain control of their future.

We first began assisting people in Yemen in 2012, providing clean water and emergency aid to villages in the south of the country. Due to escalating violence, we suspended relief programmes in May 2015 but were able to resume lifesaving operations one month later.

As the country struggles to achieve stability, the IRC is continuing our efforts in the Abyan, Lahij, Al Dhale’a, Aden, Shabwa, Amanat Al Asimah, and Sana’a governorates by:

  • providing health, nutrition, water and sanitation services to more than a quarter of a million people
  • delivering essential drugs and medical supplies to hospitals
  • treating children for acute malnutrition
  • calling on the international community to help achieve a lasting peace

Our impact

In 2015, the IRC and our partner organisations in Yemen provided:


people with access to primary and reproductive health care.

We’re providing healthcare people in Yemen affected by ongoing violence by delivering essential drugs and medical supplies to hospitals.

Explore our health work.

people with access to clean drinking water and sanitation.

Even before the current conflict began, more than half of Yemen’s population lacked access to clean drinking water.

Learn more about our health work.

children under 5 with treatment for acute malnutrition.

Yemen’s malnutrition ranking is one of the world’s worst. We’re working to ensure young children have access to the care they need.

Explore our work

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