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Smiling children stand outside holding boxes from the IRC, while adults converse in the background.
Citizens under siege

Yemen Crisis Watch

Yemen is facing the largest humanitarian crisis of our time: two-thirds of the population are at risk of starvation, with thousands gripped by a deadly cholera outbreak. 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.

What's happening

  • In war-torn Yemen, more than 500,000 are suffering from cholera after a massive outbreak of the life-threatening disease.

  • Cholera has the deadliest impact on vulnerable populations, including many children who are already suffering from malnutrition.

  • 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.

Read our full statement about the cholera outbreak.
Country facts
  • Population: 25.9 million
  • People displaced by crisis: 2.7 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 and malnutrition, 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. More than 7,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million uprooted as a result of this conflict, according to the U.N.

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?

Over 80% 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.

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.

As the country struggles to achieve stability, the IRC is continuing our efforts in the Abyan, Lahj, Aldale’a, 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;
  • calling on the international community to help achieve a lasting peace.

The IRC is also calling for direct humanitarian air service between Sana'a and Aden to address the needs of 17 million people facing starvation. Read more.

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