Yemen crisis explained - your questions on the Yemen Crisis answered

13 November 2018

A mother holds a baby in Yemen suffering from malnutrition, the UN warns that Yemen faces worst famine for 100 years.

The UN warns that Yemen faces worst famine for 100 years. 

Latest Update on the Yemen Crisis 

Please donate to CAFOD's Yemen Crisis Appeal 

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is rapidly turning into the worst famine the world has seen for 100 years.

In a joint letter to Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, CAFOD, along with eight other aid agencies, has called for “an immediate end to the fighting” and for the UK Government to “use its influence to urge parties to the conflict to end violations against civilians.”

The letter continues:

“The catastrophic food shortages in Yemen are entirely human-made and a direct consequence of the warring parties’ severe restrictions on access to food, fuel, medical imports and humanitarian aid. The collapse of the Yemeni Rial and the non-payment of public sector workers is adding to the tragic situation.

“Civilian deaths have increased dramatically in recent months – with 450 civilians killed in just nine days in August. Violence against women and girls has also risen significantly since the conflict escalated.”

Read the full letter to Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Giovanna Reda, CAFOD’s Head of Humanitarian Programmes for the Middle East, said:

“The impact of this conflict is devastating. Hunger stalks 14 million Yemenis – 60 percent of the population. We see immense suffering in the faces of children whose young lives have been stunted by malnutrition, and the agony of their parents who can only watch their children waste away.

“Humanitarian access is vital to reach vulnerable families on the brink of famine. With 90 percent of all Yemen’s food imports passing through Hodeida port, any disruption of the port’s operation will severely affect our ability to get emergency aid to where it is needed most.

“A comprehensive ceasefire across the country is urgently needed now, to halt the suffering of millions of people.”

What is the situation in Yemen?

In Yemen, there has been a three 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.

Yemen, already one of the world’s poorest countries is being pushed to the brink of catastrophe. Hunger affects 14 million Yemenis which is 60 percent of the population. A child is dying every ten minutes because of preventable diseases, and child malnutrition is at an all-time high.

Please keep the people of Yemen in your thoughts and prayers 

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 are extremely vulnerable and need immediate access to food. 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 is CAFOD’s partner responding?

Working in conflict affected communities in the south of Yemen; before the blockade, and assault on Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah, our partner was able to provide nutrition services; which involves screening and identifying children under 5 and breastfeeding 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 suffering from malnutrition or showing signs of the condition - providing the nutritious food supplements needed for proper treatment. 

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

Working in neighbouring Djibouti

We gave £12,000 to our partner Caritas Djibouti, to support more than 500 families from Yemen, who had fled the conflict into neighbouring Djibouti. This money provided emergency medical care, food assistance and support for small micro-credit businesses so that refugee families could 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 2016, to our Yemen Crisis Appeal raising more than £300,000 for the people of Yemen, and we joined forces with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal, which has raised £30 million. 

How can I support CAFOD during emergencies?

Please donate to CAFOD's Yemen Crisis Appeal 

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.

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

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