Yemen crisis explained - your questions on the Yemen Crisis Appeal answered

13 December 2017

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CAFOD works with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to respond to crises around the world.

More than two years of conflict have pushed Yemen, already one of the world’s poorest countries, to the brink of catastrophe. Half of the population – 14 million people – are going hungry and need help before it’s too late. A child is dying every ten minutes because of preventable diseases and child malnutrition is at an all-time high.

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In early November, the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition announced a temporary blockade of Yemen’s airports, seaports and land crossings. Ports in Government of Yemen-controlled areas (Aden, Mokha and Mukalla) have since reopened but they provide grossly insufficient capacity for the volume of humanitarian and commercial supplies that the country needs.

This blockade is affecting the ongoing work of our partner, who say that they are now running out of supplies to treat malnutrition, where 3.3 million children and pregnant and breast-feeding women are acutely malnourished; including 462,000 children under five, suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

Please donate to CAFOD's Yemen Crisis Appeal 

Our partner continues to vigorously call for a reopening of all ports immediately, so that they can get vital emergency aid to families in desperate need. 

Working in conflict affected communities of Abyan and Aden, before the blockade,  our partner was able to provide nutrition services; which involves screening and identifying children under 5 and breast-feeding mothers for acute malnutrition. Their work also included training community volunteers to spot the worst cases of malnutrition in their communities, and get mothers and babies treated at available health facilities or in the home. 

Against a challenging environment they have been able to check thousands of children for signs of  malnutrition, of which 800 who were found to be suffering have been treated, for example by being given nutritious food.

This emergency response is vital as the country continues to battle with the spread of cholera.

Working in neighbouring Djibouti

We have also given a solidarity grant to Caritas Djibouti of £12,000, in support of more than 500 families from Yemen, who have fled the conflict into neighbouring Djibouti. This grant will provide emergency medical care, food assistance and support for small micro-credit businesses so that refugee families can be more economically independent.

We are unable to name our partner in Yemen or state exactly where they are working. This is because they are operating at great risk to their own safety; publicising their work could endanger both them and the life-saving programmes they are delivering.

You responded with generosity and compassion just before Christmas, to our Yemen Crisis Appeal raising more than £288,000 for the people of Yemen, and we joined forces with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal,which has raised £27 million. 

Please keep the people of Yemen in your thoughts and prayers 

Is CAFOD part of the DEC Yemen Crisis Appeal?

In response to the launch of the DEC Yemen Crisis Appeal, Director of CAFOD, Chris Bain, said:

“We cannot fail to be moved by the heart-breaking news coming from Yemen; of families ripped apart by the conflict, without the basics of food, water, and protection from violence. We see immense suffering in the faces of people in Yemen, of the children whose young lives have been stunted by malnutrition, and of those who find themselves homeless, because of the conflict, and in need of the basics of life – food, clean and safe water, and shelter.

“CAFOD is supporting a partner in Yemen, and as a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), we support our DEC colleagues who have a strong operational presence in Yemen and are well placed to reach vulnerable families most in need.  When a family receives a blanket, food parcel, hygiene kit, or medical attention, dignity and a sense of hope is restored.

What is the situation in Yemen?

In Yemen there has been a two and a half year long bloody civil war, between the Houthi ethnic group and supporters of Yemen’s government led by President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

At the request of the Yemeni government, an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia have carried out air strikes across the country against the Houthi. For ordinary Yemenis, the consequences have been devastating.

The UN now estimates that more than 10,000 people have been killed since the start of the conflict, with 6,000 people killed in 2016 alone.

What are the humanitarian needs in Yemen?

Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Middle East, and ordinary people are bearing the brunt of an increasingly brutal conflict.

Severe water shortages combined with airstrikes, sniper attacks and a fuel blockade have rapidly turned this conflict into a humanitarian crisis. Demand is rapidly increasing to get food, water, shelter, sanitation and medical care to vulnerable families in the greatest need.

According to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the conflict has left millions of desperate people in need of humanitarian aid and protection. Yemeni families were already dealing with dire and extreme poverty but this conflict has exacerbated their suffering.

The economy and public services such as hospitals and clinics face collapse, and many Yemeni families have exhausted their savings as they struggle to earn a living;women, children and men face a humanitarian catastrophe. 

Two thirds of the population, more than 20 million people are in urgent need of some form of life-saving humanitarian assistance such as food, water, medical care and shelter.


More than 7 million people in Yemen do not know where their next meal will come from and 462,000 children under five are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.


More than 3 million people have been recorded by the UN as internally displaced, nearly half of whom are children. Aden governorate is hosting the highest number, 393,508 individuals, followed by Ta'izz 300,585 individuals and Hajjah, 280,821 individuals (as of October 2016,).


More than 1,900 of the country's 3,500 health facilities are currently either not functioning or partially functioning, leaving half the population without adequate healthcare. According to the UN, as of 5 November, there has been more than 900,000 suspected cholera cases and 2,192 associated deaths were reported;  more than half of the suspected cases are children. 

How can I support CAFOD during emergencies?

CAFOD’s ongoing emergency appeals help people affected by emergencies such as conflict, droughts and typhoons, both in the immediate aftermath and in the longer term.

Join our Emergency Response Team by giving a monthly donation so that we can respond as soon as disasters happen.

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