As world leaders convene in Geneva, Switzerland, for a high-level pledging event on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is calling on donors, leaders and participants to re-focus diplomatic efforts to end the violence, and to fund the humanitarian response targeting 17.3 million people in Yemen, which still remains one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world. Since 2020, humanitarian appeals for Yemen have seen shortfalls of more than US$2 billion at each pledging conference.

March marks the ninth year of conflict and economic turmoil in Yemen, now compounded by the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine. The growing trend of insufficient humanitarian funding is having desperate impacts on the people of Yemen who continue to live with the daily reality of the failure to secure a political settlement to the war

Jared Rowell, IRC Yemen Country Director, said,
A six-month UN-brokered agreement between April and October 2022 brought hope to millions of Yemenis. It resulted in decreased fighting, civilian casualties and conflict-related displacement. While the military conflict has not intensified since the formal truce lapsed, it is important to consider what has and has not changed over the course of 2022. 

Only 52 percent of the humanitarian response was funded last year representing a $2bn shortfall. The year before the figure was marginally higher at 61 per cent - a $1.49bn shortfall. This trend of reduced donor contributions and growing funding gaps is woefully inadequate in a context in which two thirds of the population are in need of humanitarian aid. Without a significant uplift in donor efforts to fund the $4.3 billion appeal this year, humanitarian actors will not be able to reach all those who require assistance.

Adequately funding the response plan is a critical element of efforts needed to break the cycle of crisis by ensuring Yemenis can continue to access basic public services like health and invest in the recovery of livelihoods and incomes.

Ultimately, ending the conflict is the only way to end this humanitarian catastrophe. The temporary ceasefire demonstrated the potential to reduce civilian suffering. All efforts should be focused on securing a formal commitment from warring parties to ending the violence and establishing a political settlement. These efforts are vital to save lives and demonstrate a commitment to peace.

The country remains in the top five countries most at risk of deteriorating humanitarian crises on the IRC Watchlist 2023, with over two thirds of the population (21.6 million people) in need of humanitarian assistance.

Yemen is experiencing a deepening economic crisis, pushing prices of food and basic goods and services up, which are becoming increasingly further out of the reach of many, and without steady sources of income, more families are dependent on humanitarian aid to survive. Less than half of health facilities are currently reported to be functioning, with about 11 percent fully or partially damaged due to the conflict.

The IRC has been working in Yemen since 2012 and rapidly scaled our programming in 2015 to address greater humanitarian needs caused by the conflict, is one of the largest nongovernmental health actors in the country, providing lifesaving emergency aid, clean water, education, women’s protection and medical care to millions of people in Yemen affected by violent conflict.

You can read the joint letter signed by the IRC and 52 other NGOs here.