Yemen is now the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Five years of devastating war, economic deterioration and the collapse of public services has left 24 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 – 10 million people – are only a step away from famine and Yemen has since 2018 experienced the worst cholera outbreak in recent history.
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 3.5 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 80 per cent of the population who rely on that assistance.
People we helped in Yemen in 2019
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 help 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 left more than two million children out of school, and over 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 ministried, authorities, and communities to ensure children attend school by:
- repairing old and damaged classrooms and constructing learning spaced, 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 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
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.
Since early 2018, to fill a significant gap in this area, 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
- advocating for positive policy changes that affect peoples’ rights
Livelihoods and food security
The cost of food has in many places more than doubled since the beginning of Yemen’s conflict, putting even basic supplies beyond the reach of many Yemeni families. Malnutrition and hunger are rife, and more than 600,000 people have lost their jobs. More than 8 out of 10 Yemenis now live below the poverty line, putting basic goods beyond the reach of many families.
In emergency situations, our teams provide life-saving food supplies, while in more stable areas we are helping Yemenis become self-reliant again.
We support improved access to safe food by:
- distributing food, such as flour, beans, and cooking oil
- providing unconditional cash transfers to families in need, which also boosts local markets
- providing start-up capital and training for youth and female entrepreneurs
- providing training and support to small-scale farmers and fishermen
- supporting people to secure sustainable incomes
Shelter and settlements
Shelter is essential for health, dignity, privacy, and protection. But vast numbers of Yemeni people have fled their homes, or had those homes destroyed.
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. Wherever possible, we use local suppliers and labour, helping local economies to recover.
We invest in creating safe, appropriate living conditions by:
- providing cash for rent, for home repairs and essential non-food items
- supplying basic household items including blankets, mattresses, jerry cans and kitchen utensils
- constructing emergency temporary shelters
- upgrading shelters for displaced people residing in existing homes
- improving shelters to create safe spaces for those living in public buildings
Camp coordination and camp management (CCCM)
Over 3 million people across Yemen have fled their homes, with most now living in poorly serviced camps or spontaneous camps. Others are crowded into unsuitable public buildings 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, including those used by host communities, and ensure that displaced people can access basic services. 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:
- monitoring services in camps and advocating to fill any gaps
- delivering services and maintaining infrastructure in camps
- building the capacities of displaced people, camp community and local actors
- facilitating and leading coordination between humanitarian actors, local authorities, and the camp community
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) promotion
For displaced people in Yemen, access to clean water and appropriate sanitation facilities is one of the most urgent needs. Five years of conflict has damaged and overburdened water sources and created a widespread breakdown in sanitation services, with catastrophic consequences for public health and hygiene.
Our teams ensure communities have enough safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene, and help reduce outbreaks of diseases by repairing sanitation systems, checking water quality, mobilising community health volunteers, and supporting rapid response health teams.
We save lives and prevent diseases by:
- rehabilitating water supply systems and transitioning them to solar power
- 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
Since Covid-19 hit Yemen, our WASH support has become more crucial than ever. Before the first case was confirmed, NRC began rolling out 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 partnering with health actors to increase Covid-19 medical services.
About NRC in Yemen
- The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA)
- European Civil protection and Humanitarian aid Operations (ECHO)
- The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)
- UK Aid
- The European Union (EU)
- Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
- The World Food Programme (WFP)
- The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
- United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
- German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO)
- French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (FMFA)
- United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
Reaction to UK announcement of cuts to foreign aid
Today the UK Government confirmed the drastic extent of its aid cuts to global humanitarian operations, which have been a lifeline to millions of vulnerable people around the world. In the coming year, the UK will spend £906m to support to humanitarian preparedness and response. This represents a more than 40 per cent drop compared to the 2019.