Yemen Crisis

January 27, 2023
Donate Now

The war in Yemen has had disastrous consequences for the country, creating one of the world's gravest humanitarian crises.

Violence continues to kill or main children. The economy continues to deteriorate and social systems are severely weakened. Food insecurity and malnutrition — and in some areas of the country extreme hunger — continue to be major challenges. 

Some 4.3 million have been displaced within the country since conflict began in 2015, making Yemen home to one of the largest internal displacement crises in the world.

Poor access to safe water and poor sanitation have magnified health risks, and children remain vulnerable to malnutrition, cholera and death from common infections.

Roughly 75 percent of the population of Yemen — over 23.4 million people, including 12.9 million children — are in need of protection and humanitarian aid.

How is UNICEF responding to the crisis in Yemen?

UNICEF was active in Yemen well before conflict began, working with partners to meet the needs of vulnerable children and families. When war started in 2015, UNICEF quickly deployed an emergency response and continues to deliver direct relief and lifesaving aid while also supporting Yemen's long-term development aims. 

UNICEF is responding to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen on multiple fronts. Specifically, ongoing UNICEF programs and interventions in Yemen seek to:

  • improve access to safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene and adequate sanitation
  • expand learning opportunities to children whose schooling has been disrupted by the war
  • identify and treat children with severe acute malnutrition
  • immunize children against vaccine-preventable diseases
  • help more children and women access primary health care
  • provide psychosocial support to children who have experienced trauma and loss
  • strengthen gender-based violence prevention and response

Here are some highlights, including stories of children and families benefiting from UNICEF's ongoing relief efforts in Yemen.

UNICEF in Yemen: providing lifesaving treatment to children suffering from severe acute malnutrition 

At Al-khatabiah, a UNICEF-supported health facility in Tur Al-Bahah, Lahj Governorate, Yemen, a child is given Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), a lifesaving treatment for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. UNICEF procures and distributes 80 percent of the global supply of RUTF. © UNICEF/UN0722231/ALfilastini

UNICEF estimates that there are 2.2 million children under age 5 in Yemen who are wasted, or malnourished, including more than 500,000 children who are suffering from severe wasting disease — a condition that can be fatal if left untreated.

UNICEF supplies health and nutrition centers across Yemen with Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), a nutrient-rich peanut paste that is highly effective in children suffering from severe wasting, also known as severe acute malnutrition. It is easy to store and to administer.

During regular visits to displacement camps, UNICEF-supported mobile health and nutrition units make regular visits to displacement camps to screen children for malnutrition and refer them for treatment services. 

That includes the displacement camp in Al-Jufainah — the largest camp in the country, with 9,000 families in residence.

Living conditions at the camp have been extremely difficult, Waleed Al-Ahdal, 25, a father of three, explains.

"We are threatened by the rain and the spread of diseases," Al-Ahdal says. "We suffer from deprivation of everything... All I can get is temporary daily work. Because of that, I am burdened with debts, and we find ourselves unable to afford three meals a day." 

Siblings Maymouna, left, Hilalah, center, and Ghosoon have been living in a displacement camp in Al-Jufainah for the last five years. Food is scarce, and the children's father, Waleed Al-Ahdal, 25, says he struggles to earn enough to support his family. After members of a UNICEF-supported mobile health care unit diagnosed Ghosoon, with severe acute malnutrition, she received treatment at a UNICEF-supported center, where she was able to recover. Read more. © UNICEF/UN0609116/Alhamdani

UNICEF's impact in Yemen in 2022 includes:

  • providing treatment for over 260,000 children with severe acute malnutrition, working in over 4,000 health facilities, while scaling treatment and prevention of malnutrition with mobile teams and outpatient programs
  • providing humanitarian cash transfers to nearly 1.5 million families each quarter, to help 9 million people meet basic needs
  • vaccinating over 1.6 million children against polio and measles
  • supplying safe drinking water to 4.7 million people
  • reaching over 1.6 million people living in remote rural areas with essential health care services

UNICEF is also providing support to help children continue their education or learn life skills.

Mohammed, 14, had to drop out of school in the fifth grade to help support his family. As a recent participant in a UNICEF-supported life skills program, he learned problem solving and public speaking.

“I’ve also learned communication and negotiation skills," Mohammed said. "I want to learn solar panel maintenance, and I think these skills will help me succeed." 

Mohammed, 14, participated in a UNICEF-supported training program, which he says helped him improve his public speaking, communication and negotation skills. "I recently used [my new skills] at home to mediate a family dispute," he said. © UNICEF/UN0636684/ALfilastini

Life skills training programs supported by UNICEF and partners have reached 1,300 young people, many of them teenagers who had to drop out of school when their families could no longer afford to send them.

The program is designed to be preparation for vocational training, where children can learn relevant job skills to enter the workforce. It is also an alternative for young girls who are at risk of early marriage and boys who are at risk of being recruited into armed groups.

How to help the children in Yemen

The needs of children in Yemen are some of the greatest in the world. Support UNICEF's efforts in delivering critical nutrition, health care, protection and education to vulnerable children and families in Yemen. Donate today.

Donate Now

Top photo: Three-year-old Orjwan, with her mother Elham Mohammad, 34, of Al Nawa’im District, Hajjah Governorate, receives treatment for severe acute malnutrition from a health worker at the UNICEF-supported Al Dhaher health unit. UNICEF continues to scale malnutrition treatment and prevention programs, reaching children in need with mobile health units and facility-based outpatient programs. © UNICEF/UN0679902/Gabreez