Yemen crisis explained - your questions on the Yemen Crisis answered

16 October 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. 

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 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 

Latest Update 

The UN has described Yemen as being on ‘the brink of the world’s worst famine for 100 years. Giovanna Reda, CAFOD’s Head of Humanitarian Programmes for the Middle East, said:

“We cannot fail to be moved by the news coming from Yemen; of families ripped apart by this war.

“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.

“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.

 “The UN Security Council met in June this year to hold urgent talks, they must act now to secure a ceasefire and halt the suffering of millions of people.”

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. 

Please donate to CAFOD's Yemen Crisis Appeal 

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?

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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