Yemen crisis

This isn’t a choice: it’s a tragedy. But it’s also a brutal reality for families in Yemen right now.

Millions of people are going hungry and thirsty every day as war destroys their ability to survive.

The scale of the need is staggering: over 80% of the population – that’s more than 22 million people – are struggling to find enough food and water to survive each day. This includes 11 million people in acute need of immediate assistance to save or sustain life, and 11 million people who require assistance to avoid slipping into acute need.

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More than 4 million people are acutely malnourished, including over a million children of whom hundreds of thousands are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Children suffering from severe acute malnutrition are 10 times more at risk of dying compared to other children, due to a weakening of the immune system.

Water shortages combined with the destruction of infrastructure and the lack of a functioning health service has led to a serious cholera outbreak, described by Wael Ibrahim, CARE’s Country Director in Yemen, as the world's worst cholera outbreak. Malnourished children, pregnant women and people living with other chronic health conditions are now at greater risk of death as they face the triple threat of conflict, hunger and cholera.

The ongoing conflict also means that people who are struggling to survive in the face of airstrikes, violence and economic collapse, are also desperately short of supplies and the urgent humanitarian assistance that they need.

“When it hits it goes ‘boom’!”

Two years after the closure of Sana’a airport in Yemen – meaning Yemenis cannot leave the country for medical assistance, and planes cannot bring in supplies – these children’s only understanding of planes is as weapons of war.

How many people are affected?

The number of people affected and the level of need mean Yemen’s people are suffering one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises (figures below from 2017).

People affected by humanitarian crisis in Yemen

What we are doing

The ongoing conflict makes this an extremely difficult environment in which to work – but CARE is one of the few international aid agencies with an established presence in Yemen, where we have worked since 1993. CARE’s team in Yemen are continuing to deliver humanitarian services under very challenging circumstances.

We are focusing on making sure that people in the hardest-hit and most hard-to-reach areas have access to emergency supplies and assistance with meeting their basic needs, including food and water. The near-collapse of public services – only 45% of health facilities in Yemen remain, with limited functionality – means that we are also providing sanitation, hygiene, and livelihoods support.

We are also providing direct assistance through cash transfers – giving people cash that they can themselves spend on food or other needs. Watch this video to see how donations from the UK public to the Disasters Emergency Committee are helping CARE to provide life-saving assistance to the people of Yemen:

What CARE is doing in Yemen


Yemen now has the highest level of humanitarian needs in the world.

Even before the conflict, Yemen was one of the poorest countries in the world, with access to adequate food and safe water a problem for more than half the population. Since 2006, Yemen has also ranked as the lowest country in the world for gender equality.

Since the violence erupted in March 2015, the humanitarian needs have escalated at an alarming rate. As the conflict continues, the enduring lack of fuel, food and medical supplies is deeply affecting the majority of the country's people.

It is estimated that more than 21 million people – 80% of the population – are in need of humanitarian assistance, particularly food, clean water and healthcare. People are going hungry and malnutrition, particularly among children, is growing. 7.6 million are classed as severely food insecure – that means they don't have enough food to eat, and don't know where the next meal is coming from. 19.4 million people lack clean water and sanitation, of whom 9.8 million lost access to water due to the conflict. The health sector is collapsing: 14.1 million are without adequate healthcare. Unemployment has skyrocketed and many families have depleted their savings in the face of soaring food prices.

More than 2.8 million people have fled their homes, seeking safety elsewhere in Yemen or in neighbouring countries. Many have used all of their life savings to travel to safer areas. Some have found shelter with host communities, but half of the displaced people are staying in public and abandoned buildings or temporary shelters.

Our response

CARE’s emergency response has so far (September 2018) assisted more than 2 million people (9% of the total affected population) mainly through water, sanitation and hygiene, and food security support.

CARE is focused on helping the most vulnerable people, especially women and girls.

We are distributing food to families in need. We also distribute cash vouchers so that families can purchase for themselves the food they need.

Over a year of fighting and fuel shortages has destroyed water pipes and water pumping facilities, so CARE is rehabilitating water sources and providing water tanks so women and children can get safe drinking water without having to travel long distances.

CARE is also providing hygiene kits, paying special attention to women’s and children’s needs.

CARE is particularly concerned about the impact of the conflict on women and girls.

Women have limited participation in society and are considered to have a lower status than men. The breakdown of safe water supplies, which means women and girls have to travel long distances to collect water, is also a cause for concern as it makes women and girls more vulnerable to sexual violence. Overcrowding in shelters also makes women and girls more vulnerable to violence.

With many damaged and destroyed healthcare facilities and lack of supplies, an estimated half a million pregnant women cannot access desperately needed medical treatment.

As food becomes more scarce, a common coping mechanism for women in Yemen is to eat less while maintaining their domestic workload. Women are also facing increased responsibilities since the onset of the conflict: 30 percent of displaced women are heading their families, and the vast majority have no regular income to help meet their family's needs.

What's it like for women and girls?

Women and girls in Yemen infographic

Read 10 facts about women and girls in conflict-torn Yemen (download PDF factsheet)

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