Yemen is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Six years of devastating conflict, economic deterioration and the collapse of public services has left 20.74 million Yemenis dependent on protection or humanitarian aid for survival. Houses, farms, hospitals, schools and water systems have been damaged or destroyed. One third of the population – 13 million people – are only a step away from famine.
The dire humanitarian situation in Yemen is an entirely man-made catastrophe. Though the 2018 Stockholm Agreement offered a glimmer of hope, the process has since stalled, accompanied by further conflict in the south that culminated in the Riyadh Peace Agreement. Despite a temporary de-escalation at the end of 2019 and the announcement of several ceasefires, the fighting continues, leaving over 4 million Yemenis displaced from their homes.
As the political situation remains extremely volatile and the economy is set to plummet further, continued support from the international community will be crucial for two-thirds of the population who rely on that assistance.
People we helped in Yemen in 2020
NRC Yemen assists people who have fled their homes, the communities who host them, and those who return to rebuild their lives.
We are often one of the first organisations to respond after a crisis. We not only provide this critical emergency aid, but also assist with more durable solutions, such as securing new livelihoods. Wherever possible, we use local products and labour, recognising the skills that exist within the communities we support.
The ongoing conflict and constant bureaucratic constraints—compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic—continue to intensify the crisis and make it challenging for all humanitarian groups to reach affected communities with aid.
The education sector is one of the most neglected areas within Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. Displacement, attacks and misuse of schools have deprived more than two million children of education. It also left half of all teachers without pay. Out-of-school children not only suffer a loss of educational opportunity, but also valuable social networks which provide protection, support, a sense of normality, and hope for the future. This has only grown worse since the closure of schools due to Covid-19.
We focus on children who have had their education interrupted or denied, and on including displaced children in formal education. NRC is recognised as a leading education partner in Yemen. We work with ministries, Education Cluster Mechanism, authorities, and communities to ensure children attend school by:
- repairing old and damaged classrooms and constructing learning spaces, latrines, and handwashing facilities
- incentivising, equipping and training teachers and other education staff to provide quality, safe and inclusive education
- providing resources like desks, books and learning materials to children and teachers
- promoting displaced boys’ and girls’ participation through back-to-school campaigns, accelerated learning programmes and sanitary kits, as they are more likely to miss out on education than boys
- activating or reinvigorating parent-teacher associations and other community support structures, to keep schools safe
- advocating for the right to education through clusters and different education platforms at the Yemen and global level
Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)
A single document can determine the future of an entire family. Birth certificates and IDs open up access to health care, protect and secure rights, and enable children to enrol in education. But millions of displaced people in Yemen do not have the necessary legal documents, blocking them from accessing many services, and are often not aware of their rights or local legal structures. Similarly, insecure tenure remains a major challenge in Yemen, and displaced Yemeni sites are under constant threat of eviction.
Since early 2018, to fill a significant gap in these areas, NRC has provided programmes that help Yemeni people—particularly women and children—access information, identification papers and legal assistance.
Our ICLA team is currently focused on:
- informing people of their legal rights
- assisting people to access critical identity documents
- case management and referring people for practical support with housing, land and property issues
- establishing or strengthening community-based protection networks and dispute resolution committees
- providing technical support and training to clusters on Housing, Land and Property
- advocating for positive policy changes that affect peoples’ rights
Livelihoods and food security
The Covid-19 pandemic has also hit the Yemeni economy hard, exacerbating extremely fragile living conditions. Socio-economic conditions have deteriorated further. The already weak public infrastructure has limited capacity to cope with extreme climate change events and other natural disasters. Exchange rates, fuel shortages, a rise in global food prices and food imports have negatively impacted food availability, access and affordability. Malnutrition and hunger are rife and an estimated 2.2 million children are malnourished. More than 80 per cent of Yemenis now live below the poverty line, putting basic goods beyond the reach of many families.
In emergency situations, we support improved access to safe food by:
- distributing in-kind food baskets where markets are not fully functional
- providing cash and voucher assistance where markets are functional
We support livelihood restoration and resilience building by:
- providing start-up capital and training for youth and female entrepreneurs
- providing training and input support to small-scale farmers and fishermen
- supporting rehabilitation and/or installation of agricultural infrastructure
- supporting people to secure sustainable incomes
Shelter and settlements
Over the past six years, 4 million people had to flee their homes seeking safety and shelter in other locations due to the ongoing conflict in Yemen and natural disasters such as floods. All these factors led to 7.3 million people in need of shelter assistance.
From erecting emergency shelters to repairing damaged houses and upgrading camps, we improve living conditions for thousands of conflict-affected families. We make sure shelters are safe, secure, and designed to resist hazards and provide privacy. Wherever possible, we use local suppliers and labour, helping local economies to recover.
We invest in creating safe, dignified and appropriate living conditions by:
- providing in-kind assistance for essential non-food items
- distributing enhanced emergency shelter kits
- providing cash assistance for rental subsidies and housing repair
- providing cash assistance for winterisation
- constructing transitional shelters for displaced people in IDP hosting sites
- upgrading shelters for displaced people residing in existing homes
- improving shelters to create safe spaces for those living in public buildings
- handling emergency stockpiling of shelter/NFIs to support clusters in responding to emergencies
Camp coordination and camp management (CCCM)
Millions of displaced Yemenis have settled in over 1,811 hosting sites in spontaneous, unplanned camps across the country. Others are crowded into unsuitable public properties such as schools, or in buildings without doors, roofs, running water, or toilets. Others have settled on empty tracts of land, meaning they are not linked to water or sanitation networks and are highly vulnerable to eviction.
Our teams partner with these families, to help protect them and empower their participation in decision-making processes. Together, we upgrade camps and maintain communal infrastructure. We also help to set up planned camps, which includes negotiating for a proper site and coordinating all needed services.
Our CCCM team is focused on:
- coordinating services, delivered by NGOs and other service providers
- developing and supporting community participation and mobilisation mechanisms
- ensuring maintenance of camp infrastructure
- collecting and sharing data about the camp to identify gaps and avoid duplication of services
- ensuring the registration of camp residents
- monitoring assistance and protection in accordance with agreed standards and international law
- advocating on behalf of/with the camp community to external stakeholders
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) promotion
For displaced people in Yemen, access to clean water and appropriate sanitation facilities are some of the most urgent needs. Six years of conflict has damaged and overburdened water sources and created a widespread breakdown in sanitation services, with catastrophic consequences for public health.
Our teams ensure communities have enough safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene, and help reduce outbreaks of diseases including Covid-19 through hygiene promotion activities, rehabilitation and the construction of water and sanitation infrastructure.
We save lives and prevent diseases by:
- rehabilitating or constructing water supply systems and upgrading them to solar power to reduce running costs
- developing and decontaminating wells
- trucking safe water to communities in acute emergencies
- promoting better hygiene practices through campaigns and materials
- constructing well-lit, safe, gender-segregated latrines for displaced families
- supporting the community and authorities on solid waste management
Since Covid-19 hit Yemen, our WASH support has become more crucial than ever. NRC continued awareness campaigns on prevention measures, boosting municipal hygiene teams, introducing social distancing and handwashing, and providing hygiene materials at scale. Essential distributions of food, cash, and special Covid-19 kits are continuing under strict safety measures so that families have what they need to stay safely at home. Our protection services and legal assistance are now provided remotely by phone. We are also working with health actors to increase Covid-19 medical services.
About NRC in Yemen
- European Civil protection and Humanitarian aid Operations (ECHO)
- The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)
- Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
- European Union
- Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
- The World Food Programme (WFP)
- The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) – Yemen Humanitarian Funds
- German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO)
- French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (FMFA)
- United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)