The Yemen humanitarian crisis: What is happening in Yemen?
With ongoing conflict, floods, and a struggling healthcare system, Yemen was living through the largest humanitarian crisis in the world even before Covid-19. This is what is happening in the country
Last updated 4 August 2023
The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the world hard. But for the people of Yemen, it was yet another crisis to add to a list of so many. Ongoing conflict, seasonal diseases, floods, and rising prices mean they are trying to survive in the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world.
The crisis in Yemen: the statistics
Seventy per cent of the 30.5 million-strong population need humanitarian assistance, with 11.5 million of those considered to be in acute need.
- 16 million people are 'food insecure', meaning they don't have reliable access to enough food
- 20 million have no access to healthcare
- Half of the nation's healthcare facilities are not operating, having been damaged or destroyed in the conflict.
Diseases like cholera and dengue fever are rife.
Yemenis cope with so much hardship every day,” said Franz Rauchenstein, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in the capital.
“Ongoing fighting in parts of the country causes daily despair, seasonal infectious diseases claim thousands of lives each year and high inflation is affecting the price of food, medicine, and other basic goods. Covid-19 is one more worry for people who are already so vulnerable.”
Torrential rainfall and devastating flooding
The country’s rainy season lasts from April to August. By June of 2020, cities including Sana’a and the southern port city of Aden had experienced torrential rainfall and devastating flooding over the space of two weeks, affecting thousands and partially destroying people’s homes and businesses. To make matters much worse, a desert locust outbreak in the summer threated to push the country’s people even closer to famine.
In hospitals, many healthcare workers have no personal protective equipment, let alone access to ventilators and oxygen for patients. The Yemen Red Crescent Society (YRCS), supported by a global Red Cross response, is currently providing assistance to people in 15 quarantine facilities across the country. YRCS is also providing tents and sleeping mats to those stranded by coronavirus control measures.
Red Cross support in Yemen
The British Red Cross has long worked with the YRCS, responding to and preparing for crises just like this. We are supporting the YRCS to provide emergency health services in Hajjah, in the north, and also providing support to the ICRC, reaching people with safe drinking water and emergency food. Funds raised by the DEC appeal will help us to support the Red Cross Red Crescent response in Yemen as it expands to deal with Covid-19.
The impact of the pandemic on livelihoods in the Middle East and North Africa is likely to be unprecedented. Increased inflation and risk of supply chains being disrupted is likely to lead to food shortages and spikes in food prices - unthinkable in a place like Yemen, where chronic hunger and malnutrition are already common.
The numbers may be difficult for us to put into perspective, but the reality is that Yemen is not ready to cope with another crisis.
In this pandemic, Yemen must not be forgotten.
Yemen Crisis Appeal
Help us to reach people living through the world's largest humanitarian crisis by considering a donation to our Yemen Crisis AppealDONATE