Since early 2015, Yemen has been faced with a civil war and the devastating consequences of the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. Prior to the conflict, Yemen was already the poorest country in the Middle East and North Africa region. With an economy traditionally reliant on oil and gas for revenue, lack of diversification of economic sources and stalled economic reforms have resulted in the nation’s Central Bank not being able to support imports of critical goods along with rising inflation and businesses laying people off their jobs.
With a no longer operational Social Welfare Fund, which was a cash transfer program for the most vulnerable of the population, those most in need are left to fend for themselves. Infrastructure and public institutions that provide essential services like education, healthcare, and sanitation have collapsed along with a downward economy. High fuel costs have led to lack of refrigeration at medical facilities for medications.
According to the United Nations, as of 2020, 24.1 million people (80 percent of the population) are in need of protection and humanitarian assistance, including more than 14 million who are in acute need. Lack of clean water has led to the largest modern cholera outbreak and the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading across the country. Thereby, an already fragile medical system with medicine shortages is facing more challenges and a strained capacity.
Within this population, over two-thirds of the country’s population of more than 30 million are food-insecure and the World Food Programme estimates that a staggering 10 million suffer from chronic hunger. To make this number clear, this number is bigger than the entire population of New York. Individuals facing the largest good gaps live in the areas that have experienced intense fighting- the four governorates: Hajjah, Hudaydah, Sa’ada, and Taizz. In these areas, people are forced to make decisions that leave them without basic life essentials. Child malnutrition is amongst the highest in the world with over two million Yemeni children with acute need and threats of famine plague the nation. Displacement and hunger are a direct effect of the war that will only be eliminated upon the ending of the conflict.