As Yemen enters its ninth year of conflict, the crisis in the country is continuing to deepen. A United Nations brokered ceasefire brought several months of significantly reduced levels of conflict, but the agreement collapsed in October 2022. 

Regardless, the truce did little to reverse the consequences of nearly a decade of warfare that has destroyed livelihoods and critical food and health systems. The aid response is continually hampered by insufficient humanitarian funding amid record levels of food insecurity, leaving the country in a highly vulnerable state heading into a possible new phase of conflict.

“Every day you wake up and you find a new price,” says Essam, a 25-year old father in Yemen. “We are living in a war - where do we get the money to afford these prices? One day we have food to eat, and one day we have to sleep on an empty stomach.”

Bodor and family
Bodor Muhammad, 21, with her daughters; Enqath, Houroof, and Enad, outside their home in Madhoor displacement camp.
Photo: Gabreez Productions for IRC

Humanitarian risks in 2023

Collapse of the truce could lead to resumed conflict

The U.N. first brokered a truce in April 2022, and parties to the conflict extended it three times, reducing fighting to its lowest levels in eight years. But the truce expired in October 2022, putting the country at risk of re-escalation unless a more permanent ceasefire is reached. Moreover, the parties to the conflict continue to constrain humanitarian access, giving Yemen the highest possible rating for humanitarian access constraints, according to ACAPS.

School building destroyed by missiles.
Missiles completely destroyed Al Hamza High School, Al-Dhale'e.
Photo: Gabreez Productions for IRC

Economic collapse will increase needs

Yemen’s economic collapse has been compounded by the war in Ukraine. Currently, 23% of households have no income, highlighting the systemic impact of protracted conflict.

Moreover, the country’s 1.2 million public employees have been paid irregularly - some not at all - since 2016, undermining critical public services. Currency fluctuation and limited fuel supplies have made food and fuel prohibitively expensive. 

The Yemeni rial has devalued to historic lows against the euro and dollar, while 80% of the population live below the poverty line. This means that even basic goods like food, much of which is imported, and services will remain unaffordable for many.

Food insecurity is highest in three years

Despite the truce, 17 million people (53% of the assessed population) required food assistance by the end of 2022, with 6.1 million facing emergency levels of food insecurity, where urgent action is required to save lives. 

Meanwhile, malnutrition rates among women and children are some of the highest in the world, with 1.3 million pregnant or breastfeeding women and 2.2 million children requiring treatment. 

Though Yemen had enough wheat reserves through October 2022, most people couldn’t afford it. Yemen has to import 90% of its food (42% from Ukraine and Russia), exposing the country to high global prices. As wheat runs out, food prices will rise, making it harder still for families.

Jam'ah holds her child Ghadeer, 3.
Jam'ah holds her child Ghadeer, 3, as she undergoes a health check in Qataba district, Al Dhale’e. Malnutrition rates among women and children in Yemen are some of the highest in the world.
Photo: Gabreez Productions for IRC

Insufficient humanitarian funding won’t meet basic needs

Yemenis (69% of the population) are in need of humanitarian assistance, up from 20.7 million in 2021, yet the humanitarian response was only 54% funded in 2022. Funding shortages forced the World Food Programme to reduce rations for 13 million Yemenis in June 2022. 

Despite the slight improvement in conditions brought about by the ceasefire, humanitarian action remains constrained by road closures as well as funding shortfalls. 40% of school-aged children lack education, and one-third of households access water from unsafe sources, contributing to the spread of water-borne illness.

Dr. Shahira faces the camera.

Dr. Shahira, a 29-year-old reproductive health officer with the IRC in Yemen, oversees five mobile health teams, as well as the health facilities run by the IRC in Al Dhale’e. Her priority is helping women in displacement camps.

Credit: Gabreez Productions for IRC

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Maryam and Aisha, 14, in class at Akram Al-Sayadi school in Qatabah district. 

Maryam and Aisha, 14, in class at Akram Al-Sayadi school in Qatabah district. 

Through support from the IRC, Maryam has received help to get student’s kits, textbooks, and other materials that make learning fun. The IRC also is constructing a physical building, to replace the tents where children currently attend classes. 

Credit: Gabreez Productions for IRC

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Dr. Ala’a

Dr. Ala’a, director of nutrition in Al Dhale’e and Lahj, at Al Shahdah camp, accompanies midwife Huda, who is in charge of counseling in the camp.

Credit: Gabreez Productions for IRC.

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How is the IRC responding?

The IRC has been working in Yemen since 2012 and rapidly scaled up our support in 2015 to address greater humanitarian needs. While the ongoing conflict and restrictions of air and seaports create challenges, the IRC’s in-country 348-person staff and 648 paid volunteers maintain access to affected populations and continue to provide critical healthcare, as well as support for economic empowerment, women’s protection and empowerment, and education.

How can I help in Yemen?

Donate now to support the IRC's life-changing work in Yemen and worldwide. We are on the frontlines providing critical aid to crisis-affected people in more than 50 countries, including places on the 2023 Emergency Watchlist.

Read more about the top 10 crises the world can’t ignore in 2023, learn how the IRC selected these countries and download the full 2023 Emergency Watchlist report for profiles of all 20 crisis countries on the IRC's list.