Humanitarian support in Yemen

Yemen is enduring the world's largest humanitarian crisis. Supported by the British Red Cross, volunteers are providing vital medical supplies and PPE to support Yemen, as well as crisis response training to over 30,000 people.

Last updated Thursday 24 March

Yemen: the world's largest humanitarian crisis

The protracted armed conflict in Yemen has now been raging for seven consecutive years. People are in desperate need.

  • 4.3 million people have fled their homes since the start of the conflict
  • 20.7 million people (80%) of the population need humanitarian aid
  • 16.2 million people (53%) are facing extreme hunger, with 4.71 million children and women acutely malnourished
  • 17.8 million people lack access to safe water and sanitation, including 12.6 million in acute need
  • 20.1 million people (66%) have no access to healthcare
  • Yemen is also going through the worst Cholera epidemic ever recorded, with 1 million active cases

Extreme hunger, disease and conflict are killing or injuring an estimated 75 people every day.

How is the Red Cross helping in Yemen?

The Red Cross works with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Yemen Red Crescent. Together we provide food, clean water, medical help and essentials such as blankets, water containers and soap.

In 2022, our we'll be prioritising four main sectors: Health, Economic Security, Water and Protection. But only a political solution can bring an end to the suffering of the Yemeni people and prospects of hope for a better future.

Food and nutrition

The current level of hunger in Yemen is unprecedented. Despite ongoing humanitarian support, more than 16 million Yemenis are enduring extreme hunger.

The rate of child malnutrition is one of the highest in the world and the situation is getting worse. A recent survey showed that almost one third of families have gaps in their diets, and hardly ever consume foods like pulses, vegetables, fruit, dairy products or meat.

2.3 million children under five need treatment for acute malnutrition.

In 2021, the ICRC and Yemen Red Cross provided nutritious food, unconditional cash grants and basic household items to more than 1,603,605 people.

Water and sanitation

Years of conflict and neglected water infrastructure are depriving millions of Yemenis from access to clean and drinkable water.

It is estimated that 17.8 million people now lack access to safe water and adequate sanitation services in Yemen. The current water network reaches less than 30% of the Yemeni population. Millions of Yemenis, including women and children, need to walk for miles to fetch water.

A lack of clean water is also causing major health outbreaks, including cholera and acute diarrhea. This has lead to the country’s worst cholera outbreak in modern history (2.5 million cases reported, and more than 4,000 people have died in the Yemen cholera outbreak).

The ICRC has been addressing the most urgent needs by repairing boreholes and water stations, reducing water related outbreaks in prisons and repairing sewage systems.

It also helps to maintain water networks and provision of chlorine tablets, fuel, generators and maintenance tools to local water and sanitation corporations (LWSC) to ensure continuous provision of safe water.

In 2021:

  • Over 5 million people benefited from the ICRC’s sanitation programme in different parts of the country.
  • 3 million litres of water were donated and distributed to one prison and one hospital through an emergency water trucking response.
  • 17 generators were donated to different water projects, local water boards, prisons, and health facilities.
  • Three boreholes were supported with wall construction and four solar systems were donated to different water supply and health facilities.
  • 1,228,577 chlorine tablets were donated to health facilities and local water boards, along with disinfectant

Healthcare in Yemen

Yemen's healthcare system has all but collapsed - there's no capacity to protect people from the deadly coronavirus pandemic. 

Where health centres still stand, they lack basic equipment like masks and gloves, let alone oxygen and other essential supplies needed to treat COVID-19.  Many health workers have no protective gear, and most are receiving no salaries.

This, along with a lack of food, water and infrastructure means people are four times as likely to die from coronavirus in Yemen than anywhere else in the world.  

Supported by the British Red cross, Yemen Red Crescent volunteers are on the frontline of this response. They travel to centres across the country to provide PPE and other medical supplies to help protect people with coronavirus. 

They also deliver hygiene kits, food parcels and blankets to displaced people, despite a shortage of personal protection themselves.

Contact us for more information