Yemen, war and life-saving assistance | INTERSOS

After five years of war, Yemen counts on humanitarian actors to guarantee healthcare, nutrition and protection assistance.



Living in Yemen means risking one’s life any moment. Health, safety, economic and social conditions are precarious and services are close to collapse. Giving birth to a child, or even a simple burn, can become crucial to a person’s survival. For five years the country has been the scene of bombings and clashes and half of the health facilities are not functioning. If you live in Yemen, and you are in need of healthcare, the chances of healing and surviving are little. For this reason, since 2008, we have been operating in the country to guarantee access to health e nutrition and humanitarian protection. Our intervention in Yemen is crucial. We support the national health system and we operate in hard-to-reach areas to guarantee life-saving treatments, targeting  the most vulnerable people by providing integrated health & nutrition and protection assistance. 

With funds from the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO), INTERSOS implemented a multi-sectoral aid project in Yemen in the governorates of Hajja and Aden, with particular attention to the districts of Qafl Shamer and Ku’aydinah, in Hajja, and to the districts of Al-Buraiqa and Dar Sa’ad, in Aden. These areas are hosting a large number of internally displaced people who fled the Hudaida and Taiz clashes, to join an equally vulnerable host community.


The DG ECHO-funded project

The project assisted 98,773 persons of concern afflicted by the conflict, in particular women, children and the displaced population with health & nutrition services, integrated with protection assistance.

Specifically, the project ensured primary health care, referral to the nearest hospitals for primary and secondary health care, individual case management, collective psycho-social support (PSS), legal assistance services and support for survivors of gender-based violence. INTERSOS supported directly healthcare facilities and activated teams of mobile clinics to ensure access to reproductive/maternal, neonatal and children’s health; the organisation ensured prenatal and postnatal care for mothers; assistance to newborns through immunization, supplementation with vitamin A, screening for malnutrition, treatment for cases of acute malnutrition; the team supported by Community Health Volunteers provided health education sessions, guaranteed outpatient treatments for common ailments, supplementing the nutrition of infants and young children.

Along with the medical and nutrition activities, INTERSOS provided emergency protection services to the most vulnerable people, targeting Persons with Specific Needs, Child Protection cases and gender-based Violence survivors, Protection activities were integrated with health, providing the population of concern with PSS services, referrals and legal assistance at the Community Center (CC), while Community Outreach Volunteers supported the identification and referral of protection cases. Community awareness was tailored per target, age and gender group. In such a dramatic context, health & nutrition and protection interventions remain vital for the survival of people in need, and restore dignity that the conflict has disrupted.


The story of Ikram

Ikram is a 41-year-old displaced woman from Al-Dhale’e governorate. She is married, has 4 sons and two daughters. She got married at an early age and her husband used to work as daily labourer in the construction sector until he started suffering from a stomach disease. He has undergone several surgeries that made it impossible for him to work anymore. He was the sole breadwinner for the family. Ikram had no means to support her family, provide food for her children, and care for her sick husband. The area where they used to live was heavily hit by rockets and their house was destroyed. Ikram and her husband and children moved to Aden in Al-Buraiqa district in February 2019. They rented a small house in Foqom sub district, but as they had lost everything, they could not afford to pay the rent. Having heard about INTERSOS CC, Ikram visited on 1 February 2020 and explained her difficulties. Through case management, she received cash assistance to pay the rent and she used part of the money to open a small business to sell cakes and ice creams. In doing so, she has gained an income source that helps her to provide for rent and food. Her husband was referred to INTERSOS mobile health team for treatment and follow-up. As Ikram has expressed her will to develop more her business, she was referred to engage in a livelihood program of a local partner organisation. 


The story of Najat

Najat, a 30-year-old woman displaced from Taiz governorate, moved with her husband and 3 children (all boys) to Al-Buraiqa district in June 2019 and settled in Al-Shaab IDP site. On 17 March 2020, while she was cooking lunch for her family, she heard that there was a distribution of food baskets outside the IDP site. As she rushed to collect a food basket, she forgot the fire on. Fire spread in her tent, where one of the children was sleeping. When she saw what was happening, she ran terrified to the tent to rescue her child and, in doing so, she burned her hand and arm. Najat was pregnant at the seventh month when this occurred. In order to seek assistance, she reached INTERSOS mobile clinic team in Al-Shaab IDP site, where a doctor urged immediate surgery to treat the third-degree burn and prevent risks for her baby. The doctor referred her to INTERSOS CC, where Najat was interviewed by a social worker and provided with psychological first aid. Assessing her case, she received cash assistance to reach the health services that she needed and was provided with a dignity kit. The surgery was successful as the mother and her baby were saved from the complications of the burn.


The story of Ashjan

Before the husband of Ashjan was killed by a shell falling on his boat, the couple had a generally happy life and was making plans to have a child. The death of the husband was a terrible shock for the 39-year-old Ashjan, who started to isolate herself, experiencing symptoms of depression which had already begun after the displacement. She had settled in Gawala farms in Dar Sa’ad district – Aden. Her family took her to a doctor specialized in mental diseases, who prescribed her medications which did not make much of an effect. Meanwhile, Ashjan discovered that she was pregnant.

In September 2019, Ashjan’s family reached INTERSOS Community Center in Dar Sa’ad, run through complementary funding, to seek assistance for their daughter. Ashjan was referred to the INTERSOS mobile clinic team (MCT) operating under the DG ECHO intervention that responded promptly, visiting her in Gawala farms. In order to assess the health of her baby, it was decided to transfer Ashjan to Al-Sadaqa Hospital, where the gynecologist confirmed the good conditions of the baby by ultrasound and other medical investigations. Ashjan returned home, where INTERSOS’ protection team followed-up on her psychological status. When visited by the MCT, Ashjan reported suffering from labor, but the midwife that examined her did not find her ready to give birth. The family of Ashjan expressed concerns about the risks of living in a remote area without knowing exactly the birth time. INTERSOS’ mobile clinic team decided to transfer her to Al-Sadaqa Hospital, where two days later Ashjan gave birth to a boy. This birth has brought great hope for Ashjan and her family, who is confident about the psychological improvement of their daughter.

Flavia Melillo
Flavia Melillo