Two years of relentless conflict in Yemen have devastated the lives of millions of people. Yemen is now facing a protection and humanitarian crisis that is quickly engulfing a large part of its population. An alarming 18.8 million people - almost two thirds of the population - need some kind of humanitarian or protection support. Some 10.3 million are in acute need of assistance. This means they need aid to sustain their lives. This man-made disaster has been brutal on civilians. Currently, 17 million people are food insecure while a staggering seven million people do not know where their next meal is coming from and are at risk of famine. At least three million people have fled their homes, public services have broken down, less than half of the health centres are functional and medicine and equipment are limited. Access to safe water has become a major challenge and the lack of proper sanitation has increased the risk of communicable diseases. A child under the age of 5 dies every 10 minutes of preventable causes.
Yemen was already a protracted crisis characterized by widespread poverty, conflict, poor governance and weak rule of law, including widely reported human rights violations. Today, the economy is near collapse, public and private services have all but disappeared, and Yemenis have lost most of their livelihoods and depleted most of their saving. Deliberate military tactics to shred the economy have moved an already weak and impoverished country towards social, economic, and institutional collapse. The people of Yemen have suffered long enough and no humanitarian response can meet the increasing needs that the war is causing. Only peace can end the suffering. The time has come for the warring parties to place the very people they claim to be fighting for at the center of their concerns and end the fighting.
Without urgent action, the situation will worsen
The humanitarian situation is likely to deteriorate further in 2017. Without urgent action – including full funding for the Humanitarian Response Plan, steps by parties to end the war and to facilitate the resumption of commercial food and other imports, and full access to all people in need – the crisis will worsen. It is absolutely essential that the parties to the conflict respect International Humanitarian Law, allow the importation of food, medical supplies and other necessary goods into Yemen, and guarantee unhindered movement of humanitarian actors to reach those in need of assistance. Access is the key to the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance to people in need across Yemen. Despite the very challenging operational environment in Yemen, humanitarian partners have demonstrated a strong and growing capacity to deliver with124 humanitarian partners working across Yemen. These include 85 national NGOs, 30 International NGOs, and nine UN Agencies. So far in 2017, these partners have reached over 3.5 million people with some form of humanitarian assistance in all the 22 governorates.
Decline in food security as agriculture takes a hit
Agriculture, which employs more than half of the population, has drastically declined due to insecurity, high costs, and sporadic availability of inputs. Total cereal production in 2016 was estimated at 480,000 MT, which is about 11 per cent below the 2015 harvest and 37 per cent below the previous five-year average. An estimated 40 percent of all farming households experienced a decline in cereal production compared to pre-crisis levels. Seven out of 22 governorates are under Emergency (IPC Phase 4) – Taizz, Abyan, Sa’ada, Hajjah, Al Hudaydah, Lahj, and Shabwah. The fishery sector has equally been heavily impacted with a near 50 per cent reduction in the number of fishermen.
Increasing need for water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance
An estimated 14.5 million people require assistance to access safe drinking water and sanitation, including 8.2 million who are in acute need. This represents an increase of eight per cent since late 2014, and the severity of needs has intensified.
Nearly half of all health facilities are non-functional
An estimated 14.8 million people lack access to basic healthcare, including 8.8 million living in severely under-served areas. Medicine and medical supplies/materials are in chronically short supply. According to WHO, more than 1,900 out of 3,507 health facilities in 16 governorates are either non-functional or partially functioning. Reported deaths and injuries from health facilities in Yemen reached 8,010 and 44,538 respectively, as of April 2017. Given that only 45 per cent of health facilities are functioning, the actual figures are likely to be higher.
A malnutrition crisis of immense proportions
A child under 5 dies in Yemen every 10 minutes from preventable causes. Overall, about 4.5 million children and pregnant or lactating women are acutely malnourished. This represents a 148 per cent increase since late 2014. Nearly 462,000 children are suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) – a nearly 200 per cent increase since 2014. In addition, 1.7 million children and 1.1 million pregnant or lactating women are suffering from Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM), while Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates are as high as 31 per cent in some locations – more than twice the emergency threshold. The most pressing needs are concentrated in Al Hudaydah, Hajjah, Amanat al Asimah, Sa’ada, Taizz, Ibb, Dhamar, Hadramaut, Lahj and Aden. Four governorates – Taizz, Abyan, Al Hudaydah and Hadramaut have Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates above 15 per cent, which is the global emergency threshold, according to WHO standards.
Ongoing displacement and returns fuelling widespread shelter needs
An estimated 4.5 million people need emergency shelter or essential household items, including IDPs, host communities and returnees. Ongoing conflict-related displacements, as well as initial returns to some areas, are driving these needs. More than three million people have fled their homes in search of safety and security. About two million people remain internally displaced and around one million have returned to their home districts, but many have found their homes destroyed and lack of opportunities to rebuild their lives; they still require support to ensure their safety and re-establish their livelihoods.
Millions of children out of school and scores of teachers unpaid
At least two million children, nearly 27 per cent of school-age children are out of school, according to UNICEF. More than 1,690 schools are currently unfit for use due to conflict-related damage, hosting of IDPs or occupation by armed groups. About 2.3 million children need support to access education, including 1.1 million in areas that are acutely affected by conflict. Months of unpaid salaries have aggravated matters. More than 166,000 teachers have had problems receiving their salaries since October 2016 - about 73 per cent of the total number of teachers in Yemen.
Livelihoods and community resilience devastated as public sector grounds to a halt
At estimated 78 per cent of households are in a worse economic situation compared to the pre-crisis period, 2.5 million people have lost their income (IDPs, social welfare fund suspended since two years ago, private companies closing), and physical access to markets is especially difficult in the highly conflict-affected governorates. The conflict has pushed more people into poverty, sharply reduced economic activity, and deeply diminished people’s self-reliance and livelihoods. Since fighting escalated, costs of food, medicine and other basics have skyrocketed, while economic activity has greatly slowed and parts of the public sector – a key employer – have ground to a halt.