The Yemen Crisis: Facts and How to Help

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The Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen


Fear of famine looms in Yemen as the civil war there approaches its sixth year. Forces loyal to the government — backed by a Saudi Arabia‑led coalition — and Houthi rebels continue to fight, endangering the lives of a population the size of Texas. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the Yemeni Civil Ware since March 2015. A fragile cease fire is holding at the main port of Hudaydah, but battles in other parts of the country are still taking place.

Current Crisis

The conflict and a supply blockade have triggered a humanitarian disaster. A staggering 80 percent of the population relies on some sort of humanitarian assistance, and the United Nations warned that an estimated 14 million people are on the brink of starvation. Food is available in the country, but people are going hungry because they can’t afford it or because they can’t access it. The Saudi-led coalition has imposed punitive economic measures, including blockades, import restrictions and withholding the salaries of millions of civil servants. Meanwhile, food and fuel prices have doubled and millions are left without the means to feed themselves or their families.

The latest UNICEF figures estimate 1.8 million acutely malnourished children, with more than 400,000 children under age 5 suffering from severe, life-threatening malnutrition.


Compounding the crisis is a deadly cholera outbreak, reported to be the worst in the world, which is escalating at roughly 10,000 suspected cases per week. As of June 2019, 1.7 million cases of cholera, resulting in 3505 deaths, had been recorded. The epidemic struck when the capacity of the health system was crippled by two years of continuous conflict and import restrictions. Health infrastructure also collapsed, hampering water, sanitation and hygiene services.

High risk areas are difficult to access which has hampered the humanitarian response. A shortage of resources, including laboratory supplies and rapid diagnostic test kits also make it difficult to get the cholera crisis under control. Communities need access to established, fully equipped and supplied diarrheal treatment centers, case management guidelines, training and staff payment and support guidelines.


Nikki Gamer

Media Relations Manager

[email protected]



CRS Response to the Yemen Crisis

Through our partner, Islamic Relief Yemen, CRS continues to coordinate with government ministries and humanitarian agencies to provide aid. Activities have included the following:

Emergency nutrition

  • Treating children under age 5, pregnant and breastfeeding women suffering from moderate acute malnutrition as well as others with severe acute malnutrition.
  • Recruiting and training health workers and community health volunteers.
  • Counseling mothers and caretakers of children under age 2 on nutrition and improved hygiene.
  • Providing food supplements for children 6 to 24 months old, and pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • Distributing medicines, supplies and furniture to health facilities

Cholera Prevention and Relief

  • Medicine for diarrhea patients.
  • Hygiene kits, jerry cans and water treatment tablets.
  • Educational materials for cholera and hygiene sessions

Water, sanitation and hygiene

  • Providing access to safe, clean water through the rehabilitation of water reservoirs—including cleaning and plastering the inner side of ponds, providing fencing for safety from accidents, repair of sedimentation tanks, and constructing water collection channels.
  • Installing solar pumps, water tanks and water distribution points, water taps for human use, and water basins for livestock.
  • Training water management committees on safe water use, sustainability practices, operation and maintenance of boreholes, financial management and record keeping.



When did the Yemeni Civil War begin?

While there has been fighting in Yemen for several years, the start of the current conflict is considered to be March 2015. The main groups fighting are the Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government.

Why is the humanitarian crisis so severe?

Because of ongoing fighting and the occasional closure of ports and border crossings, it can be difficult for aid to reach the people who need it. Even before the war, Yemen was the poorest country in the Arab world with nearly half of the population being undernourished. Food prices have gone up during the conflict and with limited opportunities for work, families have few options to obtain what they need to survive.

Why is cholera such a big problem?

Cholera is caused by people drinking contaminated water. Since the war in Yemen has damaged the infrastructure, as many as 12 million people lack access to clean water. Cholera causes severe diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and even death if left untreated. CRS is working to prevent cholera by giving people clean water and water treatment tablets. For those suffering with the disease, CRS provides medication and other supplies.

How can I help?

You can donate to the crisis here or set up your own fundraising page

Can you help us to get the word out?

Follow and retweet @catholicRelief and @CRSNews on Twitter for the latest updates.

Thank you for your compassion. Your support saves lives.