Context and Impact of the Crisis
More than seven years of armed conflict in Yemen has caused tens of thousands of civilian casualties and displaced over 4 million people, making Yemen one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises and aid operations. Intensifying clashes over the past year increased the number of active front lines in Yemen from 49 in 2020 to 51 by mid-2021,1 and early estimates indicate that two of the highest monthly civilian casualty rates since December 2019 occurred in October and December 2021. At least 286,700 people are estimated to have been displaced in 2021.2 Substantial devaluation of the Yemeni rial (YER) contributed to the further worsening of Yemen’s economy in 2021, driving up the prices of essential goods and services including food, fuel and healthcare.
The rial fell by some 57 per cent between January and December in Government of Yemen (GoY) areas, reaching successive historical lows in the process. In areas under Ansarullah control, severe fuel shortages have driven price increases even as the exchange rate has remained more stable. Consequently, public services have been further degraded and the authorities face even greater challenges to paying regular salaries and pensions to public employees. With the livelihoods situation remaining largely unchanged across the country, the average person’s purchasing power is being substantially eroded, incentivizing increased adoption of harmful coping strategies.
Natural hazards continue to aggravate the crisis, with torrential downpours and recurrent flooding in 2021 causing deaths, injuries and displacements as well as inducing widespread damage to essential infrastructure, affecting at least 240,000 people. Other natural hazards also remain a threat, including desert locust infestations and the depletion of natural water sources, while the floating and storage offloading vessel (FSO) Safer continues to imperil the ecosystem of the Red Sea as well as the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in Yemen and its neighboring countries, especially in coastal areas.
COVID-19 also remains a serious health threat in Yemen, with nearly 11,000 confirmed cases and close to 2,000 associated deaths recorded in 2021. This is likely a severe underestimation of the disease’s actual prevalence in the country, as COVID-19 cases are only systematically tracked in areas under the Government of Yemen, and resources for tracking are insufficient.
While vaccinations against COVID-19 began on 20 April 2021, a mere 2.1 per cent of Yemen’s population had been at least partially vaccinated by 31 December 2021.
Beyond the direct health and mortality risks posed by COVID-19, fears and stigma associated with the disease are reportedly also discouraging people from seeking treatment for other health concerns and from accessing other services, while measures introduced to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 have caused interruptions to various vital services, including for nutrition, protection and education.
The impact of the crisis is most visible in the pervasiveness of malnutrition, disease outbreaks, and civilian casualties and displacements in Yemen, as well as in the collapsing economy, looming famine and the reversal of the country’s past development gains. While humanitarian partners reached an average of 11.6 million people a month with humanitarian and protection assistance in 2021, the operating environment remains restricted and characterized by extensive access challenges and insecurity. Some 10.9 million people live in areas of Yemen where bureaucratic and logistical impediments, as well as armed conflict and insecurity, represent major challenges for the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
Scope of the analysis
All 333 districts of Yemen are covered by this Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO), with analysis particularly focusing on the needs of internally displaced persons, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. Specific attention is also provided to population groups that experience heightened vulnerabilities, including children, women, people with disabilities, older persons, and marginalized communities such as the Muhamasheen.
For the second consecutive year, assessments of needs in this HNO are informed by the enhanced global Humanitarian Planning Cycle (HPC) approach and the corresponding Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Joint Inter-sector Analysis Framework (JIAF) global guidance. This approach holistically measures the severity of needs in Yemen against 24 intersectoral indicators. While comparisons with regard to peoplein need (PiN) can be made between the 2021 and 2022 HNOs, PiN assessments in this HNO cannot be juxtaposed with preceding years, as the JIAF approach had not yet been adopted, and changes in the figures reflect the shift in methodology rather than any change in the situation.
According to the 2022 HNO analysis, 23.4 million people in Yemen are estimated to require humanitarian assistance in 2022, of whom 12.9 million people are assessed to be in acute need. The main instigators of the number of people in need are food insecurity and malnutrition, health, water and sanitation needs and protection. Some 19 million people require food assistance in 2022, including 7.3 million in acute need. In addition, 21.9 million people need support to access critical health services, while some 17.8 million people will require support to access clean water and basic sanitation needs. Some of the highest levels of vulnerability are concentrated in displacement hosting sites where very few services are available, and protection needs continue to be high across Yemen especially as the deteriorating humanitarian context incentivizes rising adoption of negative coping strategies.
Expected context evolution in 2022
Humanitarian needs in Yemen are expected to increase and intensify in 2022 as the context deteriorates further, at least in the absence of a deescalation of the conflict and significant improvements to the economy as well as funding for humanitarian and development partners.
Violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law are likely to continue to cause additional harm to civilian populations and infrastructure. A nationwide ceasefire - and in the long-term a political agreement - is urgently needed to create the conditions for recovery and long-term peace.
Constraints on the humanitarian response will likely continue to be compounded by armed violence and bureaucratic challenges, while protracted displacement is set to further erode people’s resilience and exacerbate vulnerabilities in displaced as well as host communities. As people increasingly resort to negative coping strategies, women and girls will face increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV) and other risks, while children will encounter diminished access to education and greater instances of family separation, child recruitment, child marriage, child trafficking, and exploitative forms of labour. Other groups such as displaced people, refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, people with disabilities and older persons are also likely to see their vulnerability increase.
Yemen’s socioeconomic environment is also expected to continue its deterioration in 2022, as a result of shrinking access to income, fuel supply shortages and further depreciation of the rial. Food supply challenges are also possible as a result of the war in Ukraine, given that Yemen imports a large share of wheat from Russia and Ukraine. These factors will continue to affect the availability, affordability and accessibility of essential goods and services throughout the country.
Seasonal rainfall and flooding will persist in 2022, while other natural hazards also remain threats. The presence of, and capacity to respond to, epidemics and other health risks — including COVID-19 - are expected to continue along similar trends as in 2021, with serious consequences for the physical and mental wellbeing of people across the country. This will compound the impacts of rising food insecurity and inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services on the prevalence of preventable diseases and malnutrition, which are projected to keep rising in 2022, and which will especially affect women and children.
To prioritize the critical needs identified in this HNO, humanitarian partners are currently finalizing the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), which is centered on three key strategic objectives: (i) reducing morbidity and mortality; (ii) improving resilience and living standards; and (iii) preventing and mitigating protection risks.