Nine years of conflict in Yemen

Nine years since the war began in Yemen, humanitarian needs continue to be enormous. Due to the conflict and climate change-related natural disasters, people are living a normalcy of poor access to food, clean water, health care, safe housing, education, protection services, and livelihoods.

Half the population is in need of humanitarian aid


What Yemen is experiencing is a protracted crisis that continues and will continue to reverberate its effects on the population for years to come. The conflict, which began in 2014 and then significantly escalated since March 2015, has produced huge economic and social costs for the country and its people. The economic progress recorded in 2022 after the truce has largely faded, and currently 80 % of the Yemeni population lives below the poverty level.

Across Yemen, conflict and climate change events have severely undermined crucial public services and civilian infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools, water supply systems, and residential infrastructure. This has generated pressure on basic services and increased humanitarian needs. More than half of the country’s population lacks sufficient access to food, clean water and adequate health services. Indeed, only half of all health facilities in the country are operational and some of them are only partially functioning. More than 80 % of the population does not benefit from a sewerage connection, and nearly 90 % do not have access to public electricity.

The truce period and its de facto continuation through 2023 have partially alleviated humanitarian needs, although localized and small-scale incidents of violence continue to occur. Despite this slight improvement, more than 18.2 million people, over 55 percent of the country’s total population, are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection services. The main needs include food insecurity, lack of access to safe water and sanitation, poor access to health, shelter, education, protection, and livelihoods.

Right now Yemen is at a crossroads. While the last few years of truce hint at a possible resolution of the conflict, the dynamics of the ongoing regional conflict are exacerbating the state of insecurity in the country and already to date are causing the price of basic necessities to rise, which is directly linked to the flow of goods into the Red Sea. This reality makes it even more difficult to bring humanitarian aid into the country because of the difficulties of access, increased costs, and limits to mobility that are posed by the conflict dynamics. 


By the end of 2023, the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) was only 39.3 per cent funded, forcing many aid organizations to reduce or close critical assistance programs. This concerning trend continues with only 9.1 per cent of the HRP 2024 funded so far this year. We call on all parties to address the underlying economic drivers of the conflict and put Yemen on a path to lasting peace. The HRP 2024 of $2.7 billion must be fully funded to meet the urgent needs of approximately 11.2 million people that the humanitarian community aims to reach across the country. We call upon the international community to respond with increased funding and support, to invest not only in the immediate needs but also in the long-term recovery of Yemen.

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Effects of climate change


Yemen is among the most vulnerable countries to climate change and among the least prepared to manage its impact. Largely caused by global warming, extreme weather events, such as floods, prolonged droughts, and desertification, are expected to increase and worsen in the coming years.

Yemen is one of the countries with the greatest global water scarcity. Unlimited water extraction for agricultural and economic purposes and recurrent droughts combined with rising temperatures are leading to severe groundwater depletion and water scarcity throughout Yemen. 70 % of non-war conflicts in rural Yemen are related to access to water, and 16 million people do not have immediate and safe access to safe water sources.

Climate change is also an increasing risk factor for the agricultural sector, and is exacerbating the already severe food insecurity in Yemen, a country where 70 % of the population lives in rural areas, with agriculture as the main source of livelihood.

The country is experiencing one of the highest rates of malnutrition ever recorded, and the situation continues to worsen. It is estimated that nearly half of all children under the age of five are currently suffering from moderate or severe stunting. By 2024, it is also estimated that more than half of the total population in Yemen will suffer from severe food insecurity, while 6 million people will experience emergency levels of food insecurity.

These levels of food insecurity are unfortunately linked to serious phenomena such as child labor, child marriage, and school dropout, which families are forced to resort to in order to have some form of economic livelihood.


The needs of the displaced and migrant population


There are 4.5 million people currently displaced in the country. Nearly 31 % of displaced families have been displaced more than once over the years. A considerable number of these people have moved in camps that are already overcrowded, with inadequate shelters and poor access to water and sanitation.  In 2023 alone, more than 314,000 people were displaced. Of these, 76 % were due to climatic events and the remaining 24% were due to conflict.

Climatic events are currently the main cause of new displacement throughout Yemen. By 2024, floods and droughts could cause between 200,000 and 350,000 people to be displaced. In addition, people already living as IDPs are particularly exposed and vulnerable to flooding due to the poor condition of their shelters and their prevalence in flood plains. Conflict-related displacement, in contrast, decreased by 83 % in 2023. However, the extensive damage caused by the conflict to housing and infrastructure is behind the very low return rate recorded.

The total number of migrants in Yemen tripled from 2021 to 2023, from about 27,000 to more than 90,000. In 2023, there were about 308,000 migrants and 72,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Yemen, most of them from Ethiopia and Somalia. With the exception of Somali nationals, who are granted refugee status, those from other countries are considered as asylum seekers or illegal migrants.

With limited prospects for economic self-sufficiency and severe difficulties in accessing basic public services, most of this population lives in overcrowded and unsanitary housing. In addition, migrant, refugee, and asylum-seeking women, including girls, face high risks of gender-based violence, including sexual violence, forced marriage, forced labor, and abuse.

INTERSOS intervention

INTERSOS has been operating in Yemen since 2008. We have a presence in both the North and South, with two main offices in Sanaa and Aden and active projects in the governorates of Hajjah, Taiz, Ibb, Lahjj, Hadramout and Abyan. We strive to operate in areas where needs are most critical and where other aid is lacking, and we build our operations based on dialogue and involvement of local communities. We carry out interventions in the areas of protection, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, and education.

To facilitate access to health services, we rehabilitate health facilities, provide medicines and equipment, and train health personnel. Through these interventions we have supported more than 180,000 people this year.

We also support vaccination campaigns in the country, in a context where 70 % of children over 3 years old do not receive the recommended vaccinations. 

We carry out nutrition programs and, through our community volunteers, conduct malnutrition screenings and raise awareness on good nutrition practices. In 2023 these activities reached more than 65,000 people.

Through our protection services we helped 89,600 people this year, specifically offering psychosocial support, psychological first aid and legal support to people who have experienced gender-based violence, vulnerable children and people with disabilities.

We also carry out several interventions aimed at ensuring access to clean water. We rehabilitate existing non-functioning water points, distribute hygiene kits, and raise awareness of proper waste management and indicated hygiene standards to prevent infection from contaminated water-related diseases. 63,600 people have benefited from these interventions.

To support the migrant population in the country we operate through mobile teams composed of social workers, nurses and lawyers, distributing energy-rich food and basic necessities, ensuring medical first aid, psycho-social support, legal assistance and medical referrals to specialized health services. Unaccompanied minors intercepted by mobile teams are also referred to Al Takaful center, a reception center also run by our staff. In the first two months of 2024, our teams have already assisted nearly 3,600 migrants in the southern regions of Aden, Abyan and Shabwa.

Operating in Yemen is an ongoing challenge. Insecurity and instability in the country pose many access difficulties, especially in remote areas. Added to this are the frequent changes imposed by different local authorities that require constant adjustments in the way of working and lengthy negotiation processes. 


People reached by our interventions:


with access to health programmes


with nutrition programmes


with protection programmes


with water and sanitation programmes