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A mother and her two young children seated outdoors in Yemen
Civilians under siege

Yemen Crisis Watch

Yemen is facing the largest humanitarian crisis of our time: two-thirds of the population is at risk of starvation. The International Rescue Committee provides lifesaving emergency aid, clean water and medical care to millions of people in Yemen affected by violent conflict and a growing health crisis.

IRC statement: Failure to end civil war could cost $29 billion

  • If the war continues for another five years it will cost the international community as much as $29 billion in humanitarian funding—more than the entire annual humanitarian budget globally.

  • At the current rate of decline, it will take 20 years to return Yemen to pre-crisis levels of child hunger, which were already among the worst in the world.

  • The IRC calls on world leaders to invest in diplomacy and put their full focus on bringing together warring parties for negotiations. A nationwide ceasefire is needed immediately to avoid further catastrophe.

Read the statement
Country facts
  • Population: 25.9 million
  • People displaced by crisis: 3.3 million
  • Rank in Human Development Index: 160 of 188
IRC response
  • Started work in Yemen: 2012

Yemen crisis briefing

Yemen, located on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, is plagued by widespread violence, poverty, malnutrition and cholera, amounting to one of the world's most severe humanitarian crises. The IRC provides lifesaving assistance and emergency aid.

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What caused the current crisis in Yemen?

In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its allies began a military intervention in Yemen as part of an effort to unseat the rebel Houthis and restore former President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power. It's estimated that 70,000 people in Yemen have been killed since early 2016. There have been 18,000 conflict related civilian casualties in the last year alone. 3.3 million uprooted as a result of this conflict.

Even before the current crisis, Yemen’s malnutrition rate ranked as one of the world’s worst, and more than half of its population lacks access to drinking water. Yemen was also battered by its first-ever tropical cyclone in November 2015.

There have been several failed attempts to halt this conflict and safely provide aid to those in need. Yemen remains the Arab world’s poorest country.

What are the main humanitarian challenges in Yemen?

Eighty percent of Yemen’s population is in need of emergency relief and humanitarian assistance.

Continued fighting prevents shipments of food and fuel from entering the country. Hospitals do not have diesel fuel to operate generators during power cuts, and ambulances have run out of gasoline. Stocks of antibiotics and critical medical supplies have been depleted.

The IRC is supporting health facilities with drugs and medical supplies and training staff in cholera treatment. We’re also working to improve water and sanitation systems. As the violence escalates, Yemen remains on the brink of catastrophe.

How does the IRC help in Yemen?

The IRC’s mission is to help people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and gain control of their future.

We first began assisting people in Yemen in 2012, providing clean water and emergency aid to villages in the south of the country. Due to escalating violence, we suspended relief programs in May 2015 but were able to resume lifesaving operations one month later.

The IRC is continuing our efforts in the Aden, Abyan, Lahj, Al Dahle'e and Shabwa and Sana’a governorates by:

  • providing health, nutrition, water and sanitation services to more than a quarter-million people;
  • delivering essential drugs and medical supplies to hospitals;
  • training health staff on cholera treament;
  • calling for direct humanitarian air service;
  • calling for a country-wide ceasefire and calling on the international community to help achieve a lasting peace.

What can I do to help?

Call Congress: A growing number of Members of Congress are recognizing that U.S. military support is fueling the conflict in Yemen and increasing civilian suffering, and they have the power to stop it. Make your voice heard by calling Congress at (202) 224-3121 to insist the U.S. end its military support and use its leverage to push for an inclusive peace agreement to end the war.

Donate: Make a tax-deductible donation to support the IRC. We are on the ground saving children and families from malnutrition and life-threatening diseases. We are providing clean water, medicine, nutrition services and other urgent aid to as many people as possible. Your gift will help us as we work to save lives in Yemen and in countries around the world. 

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