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Citizens under siege

Yemen Crisis Watch

Yemen is facing the largest humanitarian crisis of our time: two-thirds of the population is at risk of starvation. The International Rescue Committee provides lifesaving emergency aid, clean water, education, women’s protection and medical care to millions of people in Yemen affected by violent conflict and a growing health crisis.

Disease, death and destruction: Yemen is experiencing an unimaginable nightmare

  • COVID-19 is devastating an already extremely vulnerable population in Yemen as violence and airstrikes peak, and humanitarian aid programmes collapse due to a lack of funding.

  • “What we are seeing in Yemen is unlike any tragedy witnessed before," says Tamuna Sabadze, Yemen country director at the IRC. "COVID-19 is ripping through the country."

  • The IRC is training heath workers, deploying mobile health teams and supporting health facilities with protective gear and proper water and sanitation services to fight COVID-19, even as we continue our other lifesaving programmes.

Read our statement
Country facts
  • Population: 25.9 million
  • People displaced by crisis: 3.3 million
  • Rank in Human Development Index: 160 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 Houthis and restore former President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power. It's estimated that 100,000 people in Yemen have been killed since early 2016. There have been more than 1,100 conflict related civilian casualties in the last year alone. 3.3 million uprooted as a result of this conflict.

Even before the current crisis, Yemen’s malnutrition rate ranked as one of the world’s worst, and more than half of its population lacked access to drinking water. Violence and discrimination against women and girls has dramatically increased.

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?

Eighty percent 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 gasoline. Stocks of antibiotics and critical medical supplies have been depleted.

The IRC is supporting health facilities with drugs and medical supplies and training staff in cholera treatment. We’re working to improve water and sanitation systems and providing educational opportunities to children. 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 programs in May 2015 but were able to resume lifesaving operations one month later.

The IRC is continuing our efforts in the Aden, Abyan, Lahj, Al Dahle'e and Shabwa and Sana’a governorates by:

  • providing health, reproductive health, nutrition, water and sanitation services to more than a quarter-million people;
  • delivering essential drugs and medical supplies to hospitals;
  • Improving access education for millions of out-of-school children;
  • training health staff on cholera treatment;
  • calling for improved humanitarian access and open air and seaports;
  • calling for a country-wide ceasefire and calling on the international community to help achieve a lasting peace.

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