One year after armed conflict escalated across Yemen, an estimated 21.2 million people - 82 per cent of the total population - need some form of humanitarian assistance. This includes 14.4 million people unable to meet their food needs (of whom 7.6 million are severely food insecure), 19.4 million who lack clean water and sanitation (of whom 9.8 million lost access to water due to conflict), 14.1 million without adequate healthcare, and at least 2.7 million who have fled their homes within Yemen or to neighbouring countries.
Yemen was already mired in a humanitarian crisis when violence escalated in mid-March 2015, but the current numbers are staggering. They are also – simply stated – beyond the humanitarian community’s current capacity to respond. In 2015, humanitarian partners reached at least 8.8 million women, girls, boys and men with humanitarian assistance in 2015 - 75 per cent of the overall target - despite receiving only 56 per cent of funding requested. With 103 partners now active in the coordinated response – a 90 per cent increase since June 2015 – and hubs established in Sana’a, Al Hudaydah, Sa’ada and Ibb, operations in Yemen are well-placed to expand in 2016.
One woman who was assisted in 2015 was Em Ali. Seven years ago, she started baking and selling corn bread in one of the main food markets in Sana’a’s old city to support her husband and their 10 children. After the escalation of the conflict in March 2015, her business suffered severely. “I only still sell half the bread that I used to sell,” she explains. Instead of 100 customers daily, now only about half that number of people drop by at her stand. Also her costs have risen. “The price of cooking gas and wheat flour has gone up and it costs me much more to bake my bread,” she notes.
With ongoing displacement has come a range of concerns, both for the displaced and the hosting communities across the country. With no camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), displacement has led to a dispersed population that is often difficult to identify or assess for vulnerability or specific needs. Many IDPs are living with host families, placing additional strain on scarce resources, or renting shelter, which becomes challenging as rental prices increase, displacement becomes protracted, and saving become depleted.
Civilians are bearing the brunt of the violence in Yemen, with the conflict posing grave risks to their safety and psychosocial well-being. More than half of the population - 14.4 million people - need protection and assistance, including 7.4 million children. Verified reports of human rights violations have soared, with an average of 41 reports every day as of January 2016.
Almost 600 health facilities have closed due to damage, shortages of critical supplies or lack of health workers, including nearly 220 facilities providing treatment for acute malnutrition. Other health facilities are operating at much reduced capacity for the same reasons. More than 1.8 million additional children have been out of school since mid- March 2015, bringing the total school-age
population out of school to more than 3.4 million. As of January 2016, some 1,170 schools were unfit for use due to damage, presence of IDPs or occupation by armed groups.
Estimates by the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation show that real GDP per capita in Yemen – already the lowest in the Arab world – declined 35 per cent in 2015 to an estimated US$320, squeezing vulnerable communities’ coping mechanisms. Humanitarian partners estimate that half of conflict-affected people have seen their livelihoods destroyed as a result of the crisis, and that traditional safety nets – including remittances or assistance from friends and relatives – are increasingly unavailable.