Humanitarian assistance for Yemen

The impact of food insecurity in Yemen is critical.

The impact of food insecurity in Yemen is critical., © DRK

16.08.2019 - Article

Yemen is the scene of one of the most pressing humanitarian crises in the world. Some 24 million people are directly affected by the consequences of armed conflicts, and often lack access to even basic healthcare and water supplies, safe accommodation and education.

24 million people need humanitarian aid

Food distribution as part of a DRK project for internally displaced families in the town of Taiz (Yemen)
Food distribution as part of a DRK project for internally displaced families in the town of Taiz (Yemen)© DRK

Of Yemen’s 30 million inhabitants, 24 million require humanitarian assistance. Twenty million are suffering from food insecurity, the impact of which is dramatic. The country has the world’s third-highest level of malnourishment. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 360,000 children are suffering from acute malnutrition. The consequences of this malnourishment are further exacerbated by the lack of access to healthcare, clean drinking water and sanitary facilities. Susceptibility to epidemics has increased sharply. UNICEF reports that a child dies of a preventable disease every ten minutes. Due to a lack of clean water, cholera continues to spread, with over 460,000 suspected cases since early 2019.

The ongoing conflict has displaced more than 3.6 million people and, due to ongoing fighting, a further 300,000 have fled since the beginning of 2019. These people are particularly vulnerable and in need of protection. There are also 280,000 refugees from the countries of the Horn of Africa in Yemen. The number of child marriages and child soldiers is increasing, and gender-specific violence is on the rise.

Even basic supplies are lacking

The most pressing needs of the Yemeni population are sufficient food and healthcare, safe access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities, and protective measures. Even before the current conflict escalated, Yemen was dependent on imports of basic foodstuffs, fuel and medication. For this, ports and airports need to be functioning. However, due to the armed conflict they are only able to operate to a limited extent. Import and access restrictions also mean that both commercial and humanitarian goods are slow to get into the country.

Humanitarian assistance work is made more difficult due to violations of international humanitarian law and the disregard of humanitarian principles by the conflicting parties. Increasing access restrictions and attacks on civilians, civilian infrastructure and humanitarian aid workers, paired with administrative restrictions, are making it considerably more difficult for this urgently needed aid to get through.

What Germany is doing

Single mothers and their children suffer particularly from the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
Single mothers and their children suffer particularly from the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.© ICRC/Mohammed Yaseen

The Federal Foreign Office has been supporting humanitarian assistance since the start of the acute humanitarian crisis in Yemen, contributing to cross-sectoral aid projects run by the United Nations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and humanitarian projects of German NGOs. The Humanitarian Response Plan coordinated by the United Nations provides the framework here. It has calculated that 4.2 billion US dollars will be needed in 2019. The Federal Foreign Office provided 125 million euros for humanitarian projects in Yemen in 2018. In 2019, the Federal Foreign Office has already provided funds totalling 120 million euros.

German humanitarian assistance in Yemen focuses on emergency food aid, healthcare, water supplies and sanitation, and protection. The aid reaches people all across the country, but primarily those in areas in particular need and with a high number of internally displaced persons.

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