Humanitarian and political background
One of the poorest countries in the world, Yemen has been in a state of political, economic and humanitarian crisis since 2011. Since the escalation of the conflict in March 2015, life for people in Yemen has been characterised by uncertainty and deteriorating living conditions.
Currently, a staggering two thirds of the total Yemeni population – or 18.8 million people – are in need of humanitarian assistance.
The conflict has had a devastating impact on ordinary people. By late 2016, health facilities had reported 43,888 conflict-related casualties, including over 7,000 deaths. This is an average of 75 people killed or injured every day.
The population has little access to basic services, and many people lack a reliable source of food. Currently, over 14 million people are food insecure. This number is set to increase by 2.5 million in 2017 if the situation does not change. Two million children are out of school, and more than 1,600 schools are unfit for use as a result of damage from airstrikes and ground fighting, occupation by armed groups, or use by displaced people who have lost their homes. 14.5 million people need support to meet their basic water, sanitation and hygiene needs. In October 2016 a cholera outbreak was announced in Yemen.
The specific needs of women and girls have also become more acute, as they are at greater risk of sexual and gender-based violence and early marriage.
Despite the enormous need, the 2016 humanitarian appeal only received 58 percent of the requested funding. Faced with funding shortages, prolonged conflict, increasing food insecurity and cholera outbreak, humanitarian agencies are struggling to meet the most critical needs.
An invisible crisis: 2 million people displaced
The conflict has seen people fleeing their homes in large numbers.
Currently, around 2.2 million people are internally displaced. Over a million more have returned to homes that are often damaged or destroyed. Very few Yemenis have fled outside the country, making the crisis in Yemen all but invisible to the outside world.
There are no formal displacement camps in Yemen. Many people are hosted by families or local communities, who are stretched to the limits of their generosity after almost two years of conflict.
Others have sought refuge in public buildings. In the worst cases, people have built rudimentary shelters. People staying in such conditions have indicated they feel unsafe, lack privacy, and face harassment and pressure from the local community to move on. Basic amenities such as health care and education are often lacking.
Cut off from the world and rapidly running out of money
Owing to restrictions on trade imports, food, medicine, and water have been blocked from reaching Yemen. Moreover, as a result of restrictions on civilian air space imposed since August 2016, an estimated 6,500 people have been unable to access medical care.
A trickle of essential goods is currently coming in to Yemen, but this only meets a fraction of the needs. A faltering economy means that even these sparse supplies may soon dry up. In December 2016, major wheat importers announced that they would halt their activities as the Central Bank of Yemen is no longer able to guarantee payments.
The fighting and continued de-facto blockade have caused displacement, hunger and suffering almost without comparison, yet world leaders have closed their eyes to this crisis.
Jan Egeland, NRC Secretary General
People we helped in Yemen in 2015
NRC in Yemen
Since 2012, NRC has been delivering life-saving assistance to people affected by displacement in Yemen.
NRC adapted to the rapid shift in context from March 2015 to respond to new and ever-emerging needs. In 2016, our interventions met the life-saving needs of 1,214,898 people across Yemen, including 619,598 women and 595,300 men.
We provide those in need with shelter, clean water, food and opportunities for education. Where local markets are safe and functioning, we shift our assistance towards recovery.
NRC works to improve the living conditions of families fleeing the conflict, as well as those returning to destroyed homes. We provide shelters that protect them from the elements and meet their needs for privacy and dignity.
To do this, we:
- Provide emergency temporary shelters and non-food items for displaced populations.
- Improve or upgrade shelters for those residing with host communities.
- Improve or upgrade shelters to create a safe space for those living in public buildings, such as schools or other facilities.
Water, sanitation and hygiene
Working with communities, we ensure that water is stored and managed safely.
To do this, we:
- Transport clean, portable water in trucks to reach populations in need.
- Rehabilitate and upgrade water schemes and systems to provide clean water at the community level.
- Provide buckets for safely storing water, soap and other hygiene kits.
- Build latrines.
- Promote good hygiene practices.
Where there is food, earning enough to afford it means a whole family must work. With rising unemployment, this is often impossible. Food prices have soared since March 2015 and the minimum food basket currently costs 20 percent more than it did prior to the escalation of the conflict. NRC responds to emergency food needs, working with communities to allow Yemenis to move back towards self-reliance and dignity.
To do this, we:
- Distribute food.
- Provide unconditional cash transfers to families in need.
- Provide start-up capital and training for youth and women entrepreneurs.
- Support trainings on food security and agricultural production.
- Work with coastal communities to support the fishing industry.
By the end of 2016, 1,600 schools remained closed. A total of 2 million children were estimated to be out of school. NRC provides children and youth with access to quality education, as well giving youth the skills to follow a path away from the cycle of violence.
To do this, we:
- Equip youth with necessary vocational skills, life skills, and literacy and numeracy training.
- Empower youth to become productive members of their communities.
- Give training in skills such as carpentry, masonry, electrical installation, and tailoring.
Millions more will go hungry in 2017
After a 2016 that was disastrous for civilians, war ravaged Yemen will see an additional 2.5 million people go without enough to eat in 2017 if the current downward spiral is allowed to continue, the Norwegian Refugee Council warned today.
Statement on Yemen Ceasefire
International humanitarian organisations operating in Yemen welcome the recent announcement by the UN’s Special Envoy to Yemen, Mr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, regarding the commencement of a 72-hour ceasefire on Wednesday 19 October at 23:59. We further welcome recent diplomatic efforts by the international community to support this and hope that it will pave the way for a permanent cessation of hostilities and an inclusive resolution to the conflict.