The difficulties in Yemen, a country characterised by extreme poverty, natural disasters and internal conflict, have been further exacerbated since March 2015 by ongoing struggles and bombardments and the resulting humanitarian consequences, making it one of the most serious humanitarian crises in the world. Given the lack of media presence and public awareness resulting in a shortage of donations, only a fraction of the humanitarian need can actually be covered. The Federal Foreign Office is supporting emergency projects run by German non-governmental organisations, the United Nations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to ensure those in need survive.
Humanitarian need in Yemen
Of Yemen’s 27.4 million inhabitants, more than half require humanitarian assistance. 18.8 million people, of which 10.3 million are children, are affected by food insecurity, a lack of access to elementary healthcare and the direct impact of armed conflict.
Food insecurity creates a critical situation. Yemen has the world’s third highest level of malnourishment which according to OCHA manifests itself in 12% of the population suffering from malnutrition. The consequences of this malnourishment and the resulting susceptibility to epidemics are further exacerbated by the lack of access to healthcare, clean drinking water and sanitary facilities. In early 2017, cholera outbreaks have been reported in 15 governorates. UNICEF reports that a child dies of preventable disease every ten minutes make plain just how disastrous the humanitarian situation is.
The most pressing needs of the Yemeni population are food, healthcare, reliable access to clean drinking water, sanitary facilities as well as protective measures. Above all, the 2.2 million internally displaced persons most of whom live in precarious conditions are in severe need of humanitarian assistance, also given the harsh weather conditions.
Violations of international humanitarian law hamper the provision of the humanitarian aid that is required. Restricted access, attacks on humanitarian aid workers and administrative hurdles make it more difficult for the aid which is so urgently needed to get through. Alongside providing for the people’s most pressing needs, a further focus is on the coordinated efforts of the United Nations to uphold international humanitarian law and to prevent further human rights violations.
Germany’s humanitarian aid
The Federal Foreign Office has been providing humanitarian assistance since before the acute humanitarian crisis began in Yemen, contributing to international and cross-sectoral aid projects run by the United Nations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and German NGOs. The Humanitarian Response Plan coordinated and prioritised by the United Nations provides the framework here. In 2016, the Federal Foreign Office significantly increased humanitarian assistance for Yemen and made available some 33.3 million euros for humanitarian aid measures. Furthermore, 1.4 million euros have been used for crisis management as part of the support we provide for political processes.
The strategic priorities of Germany’s humanitarian assistance in Yemen are in line with need and focus primarily on areas with the highest vulnerability assessment.
Also in 2017, humanitarian assistance for the people in Yemen will continue to be a priority of German foreign policy.