Yemen: The Ongoing Humanitarian Crisis – Forgotten but Unresolved

The Yemeni civil war, an ongoing multilateral conflict that began in late 2014, continues to ravage the nation, causing immense suffering and destruction.

The Yemeni civil war, an ongoing multilateral conflict that began in late 2014, continues to ravage the nation, causing immense suffering and destruction. This conflict has not only destabilized the country politically but has also led to a severe humanitarian crisis.

Since the onset of the war, Yemen has faced a catastrophic humanitarian situation. Approximately 23.4 million people are suffering from famine and cholera, urgently needing medical aid. The economic collapse has exacerbated food insecurity, with 17.4 million Yemenis currently food insecure and 1.6 million on the brink of emergency levels of hunger, as estimated by the United Nations.

Reports from 2015 indicated that over 10 million Yemenis were deprived of essential services such as water, food, and electricity. This dire situation displaced around 100,000 people in just 15 days. Oxfam reported that more than 10 million people were without sufficient food, and 850,000 children were half-starved. Additionally, 13 million civilians lacked access to clean water. Although some humanitarian aid reached Yemen, such as medical supplies delivered by UNICEF, the aid was insufficient to address the massive needs of the population.

As the conflict continued, natural disasters compounded the crisis. In November 2015, Cyclone Chapala struck Yemen, further damaging the already fragile infrastructure. The war has decimated the healthcare system, leading to preventable deaths. Save the Children estimated that around 10,000 children die annually from preventable diseases due to the collapse of healthcare services. Before the war, Yemen already had high child mortality rates from preventable causes, but the situation has worsened significantly, with an estimated 1,000 children dying every week from conditions like diarrhea, malnutrition, and respiratory infections.

By 2017, the World Food Program reported that 60% of Yemen’s population, or 17 million people, were in a state of crisis or emergency regarding food security. That same year, a cholera epidemic resurfaced, killing hundreds and affecting hundreds of thousands. By June 2017, there were over 200,000 cholera cases and 1,300 deaths, primarily in areas controlled by one of the warring parties.

The conflict has also led to a significant deterioration in the security situation for international aid organizations. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had to pull out 71 staff members from Yemen in 2018 after a series of targeted threats and attacks, making it difficult for them to operate safely.

The war has left Yemen on the brink of economic collapse, with the United Nations Development Programme warning in 2019 that Yemen could become the poorest country in the world if the conflict continues. By 2020, over 3.6 million people had been displaced, and 24 million were in dire need of humanitarian assistance. The funding gap for humanitarian operations remained significant, hampering efforts to provide essential aid.

Human Rights Watch reported in 2020 that detainees in informal detention facilities faced serious health risks from the COVID-19 pandemic. Overcrowding and lack of healthcare facilities exacerbated the situation. The World Food Programme projected in 2021 that if the blockade and war persisted, more than 400,000 Yemeni children under five could die from acute malnutrition before the year’s end.

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is a devastating consequence of the ongoing conflict, with millions suffering from hunger, disease, and lack of essential services. Urgent international attention and action are needed to alleviate the suffering and pave the way for peace and stability in the region.

Shane Williams
Shane Williams
I, Shane Williams, am a dedicated researcher and journalist focusing on the MENA region, covering a wide range of incidents and developments. My work involves in-depth analysis and reporting on humanitarian, social, and economic issues within the Middle East and North Africa.