The humanitarian situation in Yemen: increasing vulnerabilities and a restricted operating environment
As a result of the ongoing conflict in Yemen, countless humanitarian crises have resulted, and many millions of vulnerable people have been placed in danger by its consequences, which have been ongoing since 2015.
Due to the conflict, people have not been able to cope with the damage caused by it, and social support systems have been disrupted, causing basic services to be negatively affected.
The critical humanitarian situation is reflected in the high indicators of suffering. According to the analysis of humanitarian needs in Yemen for the year 2023 issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 80% of the country’s population, estimated at 32.6 million, are struggling to obtain food, safe drinking water, and primary health services in all the 22 governorates.
The report confirmed that about 21.6 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection services, and that about 17.3 million people are in need of food security. Malnutrition rates among women and children are the highest in the world.
There are 20.2 million people who need support to access vital health services in light of a fragile health system, as 46% of all health facilities are partially functioning or completely out of service, while maternal mortality in Yemen has become the highest in the Arab region.
About 15.3 million people need support to access clean water and meet basic sanitation needs. At the same time, Yemen is facing a severe educational crisis that will have dire consequences for children and generations in the long term. The number of students in need of educational assistance is more than 8 million children, which is equivalent to 80% of children of early education age, and more than 2.7 million children have dropped out of education due to the conflict.
Severe shortage of humanitarian funding
Some of the highest levels of vulnerability are in internally displaced people hosting sites due to the lack of services. Yemen is home to an estimated 4.5 million internally displaced people, most of them children and women, who are mostly housed in Marib Governorate, which ranks among the six biggest regions in the world for internal displacement. Most of these displaced people have been displaced several times over the years, and many of them live in areas prone to flooding or in inadequate shelters. This comes in a severely restricted humanitarian work environment.
Coinciding with a severe shortage in humanitarian funding, the humanitarian response plan for Yemen received only $1.34 billion out of the $4.34 billion required, according to a statement by the Director of the Operations and Advocacy Department at the UN OCHA Office, Edem Surno, during a Security Council session in mid-August 2023.
UN and international data suggest that humanitarian needs will remain constant in Yemen until the end of this year, and that the ability of the vulnerable population to withstand will decrease as a result of the continued collapse of basic services, macroeconomic instability, and the decline in the value of the Yemeni riyal, in addition to a group of compound factors with devastating effects.
Recently, the Famine Early Warning System Network expected that the percentage of the population in Yemen who will need urgent food aid will be between 50 and 55% in February 2024, meaning more than 17 million. In its recent report, the network stated that Yemen ranks first among 22 countries suffering from food crises around the globe due to its acute food insecurity crisis.
Expanding the scope of humanitarian intervention
All this prompts HUMAN ACCESS to intensify and expand its available humanitarian response with the support of donors and partners in the most vital areas such as health, nutrition, education, protection, livelihoods, water and environmental sanitation, with a special focus on vulnerable groups, such as internally displaced people, women, children, migrants, persons with disabilities, and orphans.
In the face of an economic decline and an absence of job opportunities, this humanitarian response implemented by HUMAN ACCESS in accordance with international humanitarian standards is essential to saving lives and alleviating suffering in these difficult times. The beneficiary Yemeni families have been able to continue their lives throughout the country through these interventions in spite of Yemen's ongoing humanitarian crisis.
The displaced woman (A.L.), 35 years old, is a mother of two daughters. She tells part of her displacement story and describes how she benefited from one of the safe spaces for women and girls, run by HUMAN ACCESS in Marib Governorate in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), under the Protection and Livelihood Support Project, saying: “I felt dignity, my situation is different now than before. I gained confidence in myself, and I was able to continue my life.”
In a press statement, Yahya Hasan Al-Daba, Head of HUMAN ACCESS, confirmed that the deteriorating humanitarian context in Yemen is increasingly pushing people to the necessity of negative confrontation. He said that the association has always been present to provide the required assistance possible throughout the past eight years and before.
Al-Daba indicated that the association will continue to work continuously to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis and provide life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable people, adding: “It is of utmost importance to give those affected by the conflict some hope for a bright future.”