Yemen crisis explained - your questions on the Yemen Crisis answered

14 June 2018

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

More than three years of conflict have pushed Yemen, already one of the world’s poorest countries, to the brink of catastrophe. Hunger affects 17 million Yemenis which is 60 per cent of the population. A child is dying every ten minutes because of preventable diseases and child malnutrition is at an all-time high.

Please donate to CAFOD's Yemen Crisis Appeal 

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We express our grave concern over the Saudi-coalition offensive against Hodeidah port. Yemen is dependent on imports for almost all of its food, fuel and medical supplies, through this port. Aid agencies rely almost entirely on Hodeidah to get humanitarian aid to where it is needed most, inside the country. 

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

“The launch of an assault on Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah, by a Saudi-led coalition, will have a catastrophic impact on the ability of aid agencies to get food, medicine and other humanitarian aid to families in urgent need of assistance.  

“CAFOD partner staff, in the country remain on the frontline doing everything they can to reach people who are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. But, with 90 per cent of all Yemen's food imports passing through Hodeidah - any disruption to the port's operation will affect the entire country.

“The UN has described the situation in Yemen as the ‘worst ongoing humanitarian crisis in the world.’ The impact of this conflict is devastating. Hunger affects 17 million Yemenis which is 60 per cent of the population. People do not know where and when they will get their next meal.  Millions of people don’t have access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation. Last year, the country faced the largest outbreak of cholera, claiming the lives of thousands of people.

 “The UN Security Council meet today (14 June) to hold urgent talks, they must act now to secure a ceasefire and halt the suffering of millions of people.”

Please donate to CAFOD's Yemen Crisis Appeal 

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 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 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. 

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 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.

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 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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