The Crisis in Yemen

Lara Kajs | 11 April 2023

(Part 3 in a series on Crises to Watch in 2023)
The ongoing crisis in Yemen remains unresolved. After eight years of armed conflict, in April 2022, the UN announced that it had negotiated a ceasefire between all warring parties. However, by October, the ceasefire had collapsed. The truce was meant to help improve the country’s humanitarian outlook and ease the crisis in Yemen, but that did not happen, and the fighting resumed in early 2023.

Cost of Conflict

Armed conflict in Yemen has witnessed more than 85,000 children killed or wounded. Men and boys remain the majority of direct victims of the conflict, including forced recruitment, arbitrary detention, torture, forced disappearance, and death. The Saudi and UAE-led coalition airstrikes have killed and maimed thousands. Their tactics include “double tap” attacks in which a strike hits a group, and then a second strike hits the persons responding to give help.

It is almost certain that both the Houthi and Coalition forces have committed war crimes. During the truce, there were violations committed by all warring parties. Unlawful attacks have destroyed residential housing and resulted in civilians being killed. There have been restrictions on movement, restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and forced internal displacement.

Humanitarian Crisis

The consequences of conflict in Yemen created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Poverty, extreme hunger, and disease are widespread. More than 26.1 million people, some 80 percent of the population, live in extreme poverty. Children have been the hardest hit by the conflict. At least 11 million children in the country need some form of humanitarian assistance. Some eight million children in Yemen need mental health and trauma care.

Malnutrition rates in Yemen remain among the highest in the world, with some 17.4 million suffering acute food insecurity. Six million Yemenis are on the verge of famine. At least 2.2 million children are acutely malnourished.

A collapsing economy and soaring inflation have intensified humanitarian needs. Funding shortages, combined with massive restrictions on humanitarian access have severely hindered operations. The war in Ukraine has increased global food and fuel prices, disrupting food chains, including grain and wheat, and its far reach has had a tremendous impact on the people of Yemen. Basic goods and services will remain unaffordable for most Yemenis for some time to come. Simply put; the people of Yemen cannot afford to eat.

The conflict has decimated the country’s infrastructure, education, and health systems. An estimated 8.6 million school-aged children need educational assistance. Nearly three million children have not been in the classroom for several years. Yemen has suffered a historic cholera outbreak with 2.5 million cases, and more than 4,000 cholera deaths since 2016. Cholera… a completely preventable disease. The WHO indicated that $392 million is needed in 2023 to ensure that health facilities remain operational in Yemen. As the fighting continues, healthcare is critical.

Women’s healthcare is of grave concern. Women are projected to experience acute malnutrition in 2023. Especially concerning is that there are at least 5.5 million women of reproductive age in the country. Of that, more than 1.5 million of them are pregnant and/or breastfeeding. Also distressing, childbirth mortality rates in Yemen remain the highest in the MENA region. One woman dies in childbirth every two hours in Yemen, mostly from causes that are entirely preventable.


One in seven Yemenis (4.5 million) are internally displaced; most of whom have been displaced multiple times since the conflict began in 2014. Drought and flooding are wreaking havoc on the fragile country, driving displacement. Many internally displaced persons in Yemen live in flood-prone areas and are at risk of further displacement.

Nearly 3.4 million (80 percent) IDPs are women and children. Women and girls have been left to shoulder the responsibility of providing for their families in Yemen. Twenty-six percent of displaced households are female, and twenty percent of them are under the age of eighteen.

Women face limited access to services. Many can no longer afford basic meals and face heightened risks of starvation. Women and girls disproportionately suffer gender-based violence. An estimated 7.1 million will require services to prevent and address violence against women and girls in 2023. Girls are especially vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking, begging, child labor, and early marriage. Females with disabilities are at an increased risk.

Despite the conflict, Yemen hosts nearly 100,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Ethiopia and Somalia.

UN Aid Appeal for 2023

The UN aid appeal for Yemen in 2023 is $4.3 billion, to address the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The perpetual conflict has destroyed the country’s infrastructure. The Yemeni people deserve a chance to rebuild their country. The global community cannot abandon Yemen.

Humanitarian funding for Yemen slowed in 2022, however, the needs of more than 21 million people in Yemen did not. The UN asked for $4.7 billion in 2022. Pledge deficits in 2022 were less than half the requested amount at $2.2 billion. The deficit forced UN agencies to scale back operations in Yemen including food programs. The cessation or slowing of food programs, compounded by the cessation of wheat and grain from Ukraine has increased the need of the Yemeni people.

Funding shortages are disheartening and indicate a lack of interest in the outcomes in Yemen. It leaves the impression that some humans are less valuable than other humans – an impression that is not acceptable.

Photo credit: Young girls do understand why they cannot use the water before the water conflict resolution. “PBF in Yemen” by UN Peacebuilding is marked by Public Domain Mark 1.0

Read Part 2: Crisis in Afghanistan