War and disasters

Crisis in Yemen

The war in Yemen has displaced millions of people and created a humanitarian, economic, and social crisis. Here's everything you need to know about the world's biggest humanitarian crisis.

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The world's biggest humanitarian crisis right now is in Yemen.

More than 20 million people need help

Before the war in Yemen broke out in 2015, the country was already one of the poorest and most vulnerable countries in the world. Today, several years of war have led to catastrophic consequences for Yemen's civilians, and the country is now in a protracted humanitarian crisis.

As many as 23.4 million people in Yemen are in need of humanitarian aid. This corresponds to around 70 percent of the country's population.

4.3 million people have been forced to flee their homes, and many Yemenis experience extreme food insecurity due to the country's broken economy, bureaucratic obstacles, and the ongoing civil war. In several parts of the country, people live on the verge of famine.

In addition, millions of people in Yemen lack access to clean drinking water and sanitation.

There is no prospect of lasting peace. And so Yemen will continue to be deeply tormented by:

Yemen's refugee crisis in numbers

Refugee situation in Yemen

In Yemen, as in all armed conflicts, it is the civilians who suffer most.

Since 2015, an estimated 233,000 civilians have been killed by the conflict. This includes over 130,000 people who have died due to lack of food and basic amenities. Cities, homes, and essential infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and water supplies have been damaged or destroyed after years of fierce fighting.

More than five million people have been forced to flee their homes since the start of the conflict. And more than 4.3 million people are still displaced. They live in camps for internally displaced people, where help is urgently needed. These are often makeshift settlements where people are barely sheltered from the elements.

This means that those still living in displacement in Yemen are extremely vulnerable. At the same time, Yemen remains a part of the busiest migration route in the world. Here, refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa cross through active frontlines of conflict.

Throughout the country, the need for emergency aid is acute and protection options are limited. Few Yemenis have real access to security and basic rights, and this is particularly true for those living in displacement.

Efforts for displaced people in Yemen

Danish Refugee Council has joined forces with NRC, ACTED, and IOM to improve the living conditions of 200,000 people in Yemen. By working together, we can better help the most vulnerable people in the country. (Video requires cookies)

Yemen is on the brink of famine

Hundreds of thousands of people in Yemen have lost their livelihoods. The country's economy is faltering, its currency is in free fall, and food prices have doubled since the start of the conflict.

According to the UN Food Programme, this means that 16.2 million people out of Yemen's population of 30.5 million are currently without food. At the same time, two million children need treatment for acute malnutrition.

On average, the Danish Refugee Council distributes food rations and drinking water to 350,000 people in Yemen every month.

Coronavirus in Yemen

Like the rest of the world, Yemen is feeling the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic. As of early October 2021, the number of people infected with coronavirus in Yemen stood at 9,214 confirmed cases and 1,743 deaths, according to WHO. But testing capacity in the country is extremely low, and so the real number is estimated to be much, much higher.

The long-term negative impact of the pandemic is being felt in countries around the world. But they are hitting particularly hard in a country where, even before the pandemic, people lacked access to basic services.

Here it will exacerbate poverty and increase the risk of conflict and human rights abuses. This is particularly true for people on the move, who are already enormously vulnerable. That vulnerability is compounded when communities shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cholera and lack of health services

Even before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Yemen was badly affected by other disease outbreaks. After years of war, many people in Yemen lack access to clean water and sanitation. This has paved the way for epidemics of so-called waterborne diseases such as diphtheria, dengue fever, and cholera.

The current cholera outbreak in Yemen peaked in 2017. It was the fastest growing outbreak of the disease ever recorded in the world. By the end of 2020, nearly 2.5 million people were infected by the disease. Nearly 4,000 had died, a quarter of them children under five.

At the same time, many of Yemen's hospitals and health clinics are badly affected by the war. Only half of them are still fully operational.

The protracted war in Yemen has created a relentless humanitarian crisis. It has left the vast majority of the population in critical need of humanitarian assistance. At the same time, the protracted nature of the crisis means that long-term funding is needed, not least to support those displaced for the third or fourth time by the conflict.

Life in Yemen before and after the war

What was Yemen like before the war?

"Six years have now passed since the war broke out. And by now everyone feels that the war is all they can remember. The blurred memories of the life we ​​once had remind us how much we have grown accustomed to the conflict.

Before the war, we all complained about the shortcomings we had in our everyday lives. If the electricity went out for a few hours during a day, we were terribly unhappy.

When fuel prices rose every few years, people expressed their frustration in demonstrations and riots. Even when the increases were less than 10 percent.

But when I think about it today, before the war broke out, we had security, peace, an acceptable level of education. And most had an income.

We had a feeling that we were moving towards a brighter future.

Things weren't perfect and there was always room for improvement. But compared to today, everything was much, much better.

Before the war, Yemen was a functioning, albeit stagnant, country.

The children went to school and the adults went to work. We had access to fuel, electricity to light every home, and inflation was not out of control.

Still, many Yemenis were hugely dissatisfied. They felt like they were in an endless struggle to get a better life."

How is life in Yemen today?

"When war came, all hope vanished. Death became an event we were all familiar with. Conflict became a normal state. Wages became a privilege. Candles became our sources of light. Schools became empty rooms without teachers, and peace became a common longing in all our hearts.

Today, fuel prices have tripled, but the exhausted souls of the Yemenis are tired of crying out. With all the destruction Yemen has suffered. Then it seems silly when we think about the problems we used to complain about before the war. But the tribulations of today should not make us long for the tribulations of the past. They should make us yearn for a better future.

Perhaps the rulers of Yemen have understood this. Perhaps they have understood that everything is relative. In any case, it is evident in our everyday life, and it is a phenomenon that we are constantly reminded of. When fuel prices suddenly explode, we long for the past. Back then, prices were still high, but it still seems like the least of the evils.

But our main concern is security, and after all, it is not the pre-war situation that I long for. The only way forward is to move towards a brighter future. But first the war must end."

- Aiman ​​Al Faqeeh, DRC Danish Refugee Council Yemen

Danish Refugee Council in Yemen

Danish Refugee Council has been present in Yemen since 2008. In 2015, we increased our presence and are today one of the largest international NGOs working in the country. In Yemen, Danish Refugee Council works to save lives and to strengthen displaced people. The goal is that they can build a better future for themselves and their country.

In 2020 alone, Danish Refugee Council reached 1.2 million vulnerable people in Yemen.

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