Yemen: the world’s worst humanitarian crisis

Published on Tuesday 2 October 2018

Four years of war have put Yemen through hellish chaos. The United Nations refers to it as the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world”. SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL’s Middle East Operations Manager, Johan Lefebvre Chevalier, explains why.

Yemen is entering its fourth year of war between the Houthi movement and Hadi’s internationally recognized government, is supported by the Saudi-led international coalition. This unusually violent conflict particularly affects civilians, with a death toll of 10,047 people and 6,385 wounded between 26 March 2015 and 10 May 2018 (OHCHR).



Beyond the human toll, the impact on the Yemeni population is unprecedented, with 22.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, 8.4 million of whom are considered to be in a pre-famine situation. More than 3.3 million people have been displaced in Yemen since March 2015, of whom nearly 2 million remain displaced (OCHA, 24/05/18). IDPs flee mainly to the Taizz, Aden and Lahj governorates that together hosted 80% of IDPs in May 2018 (IOM).

The seriousness of the situation has led the United Nations to describe it as the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world”.



The scale of the crisis is also due to structural vulnerability that existed before the conflict. As early as 2014, Yemen was already considered as one of the 10 most corrupt countries in the world (Transparency International). Moreover, water resources are almost non-existent and continue to decline drastically – 200 m3 of water per year per inhabitant currently, and a forecast of 40 m3 for 2050 (Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2012). In addition, the drop in the value of the Yemeni riyal (about -131% of its pre-crisis value) contributes to higher food, fuel and agricultural input prices, which has a negative impact on food security (Monthly Market Monitoring Bulletin, July 2018).

  • 30.8 million inhabitants
  • 80% of population under the poverty line
  • 179th out of 189 on the Human Development Index
  • 111,213 people helped


The ongoing conflict around the port city of Hodeidah is compromising the protection of civilians and threatening the supply routes of the rest of the country with fuel, food and essential medical supplies. It is crucial that it remains open. The lives of thousands of Yemeni women, men and children are hanging from this lifeline. Nearly 70% of all humanitarian aid and almost all commercial food stocks in northern Yemen enter through the ports of Hodeidah and Saleef, just north of Hodeidah.


yemen enfant hopital



5 million children at risk of starvation, including 400,000 children under five, suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
2 million displaced people, 76% of whom are women and children.
17.8 million people (61 % of the population) are food insecure, of which 8.4 million are severely food insecure.
16 million people need help to answer to their needs in matter of water, sanitation and hygiene, of which 11.6 million have acute needs.
Between April and May, the price of drinking water increased by 20%.
1.9 million children are no longer in school and 4.1 million need assistance to continue their education.
256 schools were destroyed and 1,413 were partially damaged during the conflict.


Behind these numbers, there are children, women and men. People like us who had a future, who were trying to build themselves, develop their country and find a way to survive. Today, they only think about their daily survival: finding water, food and access to primary health care. There, people no longer talk about education or the future, they talk about survival”.





Header picture : Thomas Gruel / SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL