Yemen, the world’s worst humanitarian crisis

An armed policeman in the district of Marib, Yemen An armed policeman in the district of Marib, Yemen Photo by Dinosmichail on iStock

26 march 2021

The war in Yemen is still lasting since 2014 and the humanitarian situation is worsening year after year.

This week, Yemen enters its seventh year of war. The humanitarian crisis has only worsened through the years, while more and more people are suffering violence, famine and displacement. According to the Global Conflict Tracker, 24,1 million people across Yemen are in need of assistance and four million people have fled their homes. As such, the humanitarian situation is dire and a new famine, that is threatening millions of people, is only the latest in a series of tragedies due to an unending conflict that, from 2014 until today, is affecting this nation.     

Since the start of the war, all sides of the conflict, namely the Yemeni government, the Saudi coalition, the Houti rebels, and the Southern Transitional Council forces, have violated human rights and international humanitarian law and six brutal years of air attacks, bombings, gunfire, fear and destruction have left the country almost unrecognisable. As a result, Yemen is facing a tremendous human cost, indeed, the United Nations (UN) has verified the deaths of at least 7,700 civilians by March 2020, with most caused by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes. However, monitoring groups report even a higher death toll, for instance, the US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) recorded more than 100,000 fatalities since 2015. Besides, thousands more civilians have died from other causes, namely malnutrition, disease and poor health. For example, Save the Children reported that 85,000 children with severe acute malnutrition might have died between April 2015 and October 2018. Nowadays, Yemen is still facing a severe food crisis with over 40% of the population at risk of starvation. According to Islamic Relief, 80% of the population is suffering from famine and 75% of the population urgently need healthcare, since only half of the country's 3,500 medical facilities is fully functioning. Also, over two-thirds of Yemenis require support to meet their basic water and hygiene needs, among which 12.6 million people are in acute need. 

The UN also stressed the need for financial aid, as the country is facing unthinkable aid cuts, which also limit humanitarian organisations in providing assistance. In addition, Yemen is facing the coronavirus pandemic and the death toll from this could "exceed the combined toll of war, disease, and hunger over the last five years." Therefore, the international community should press for an end to the conflict and provide sufficient funds for life-saving programmes and to ensure that humanitarian aid can safely reach the entire population.  

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Author: Eleonora Gonnelli; Editor: Benedetta Spizzichino

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