Over seven years of conflict, millions of people in Yemen have suffered the compounded effects of the war, ongoing economic crisis and disrupted public services. Escalating conflict in 2021 resulted in civilian casualties, increased displacement and further disruption of public services, pushing humanitarian needs higher. Yemen’s collapsing economy – itself a product of the conflict – exacerbated vulnerabilities among poor families. More than 23.4 million people - almost three-quarters of the population- need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2022; an increase of 13 per cent from what was already a frightening figure in 2021.
Prolonged conflict and the use of the economy as a tool of war have taken a devastating toll on Yemenis. A record 19 million people now need of food assistance. Extreme hunger looms for 161,000 people by the end of 2022. Children continue to stand front and center in this conflict as some 2.2 million are acutely malnourished, including nearly more than half a million children severely so. Their predicament is grim, as limited access to critical services continues to worsen the conditions of the most vulnerable groups, mostly women and children.
Since 2017, fighting has left 14,000 civilians dead or injured. More than 4.3 million people have fled their homes since 2015, making this the fourth largest internal displacement crisis on the planet. Preventable disease and natural hazards continue to place additional burdens on people, and while advocacy efforts with authorities have resulted in some improvements, the operating environment remains unnecessarily challenging with solutions for restrictive bureaucratic impediments always just out of reach. The absence of macro-economic stability has resulted in significant loss of employment as well as price increase that are driving families into food insecurity.
The protracted fuel crisis, which started in June 2020, also worsened in the north, compounding an already difficult humanitarian situation.
Despite massive challenges, Yemenis continue to show incredible resilience. Aid agencies are committed to build up on that resilience even further through programmes which allow families to make their own choices and buy their own food. This is also in line with the localization agenda which recognizes that increased local partnership and leadership guarantee a sustainable and resilient aid operation that places affected populations at the heart of the response while anticipating the future.
The humanitarian community stands ready to work with all stakeholders to alleviate the suffering of millions of women, children, men, elderly people and persons with disability and remain committed to ensuring that the aid operation is as effective, accountable and principled as possible. In 2022, the humanitarian community is seeking $4.27 billion to provide principled assistance to 17.3 million people.
Based on three nationwide needs assessments reflecting the most pressing needs across sectors, the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) sets out three strategic objectives: to reduce morbidity and mortality; improve living standards and resilience; and prevent, mitigate and respond to protection risks faced by crisis-affected people, with an increased focus on multi-sector challenges. Recognizing that vulnerable groups and displaced populations are disproportionately affected by the crisis, this response plan puts their needs front and centre. To enhance accountability to affected people, management objectives have been introduced into the response plan to ensure effective implementation of strategic objectives. Some 200 frontline humanitarian organizations will implement activities under these objectives and enhanced partnership with the Government of Yemen and the Ansar Allah authorities will be essential.
As part of efforts to shift towards more sustainable assistance, including long-term action to tackle the underlying drivers of this crisis, particularly the economic crisis, this response plan is aligned with the new economic framework which maps out a series of initiatives, which, if implemented, would have a real and immediate impact on Yemen’s economy. These include easing import restrictions, providing foreign currency injections and investing in key infrastructure. Ensuring the regular payment of public sector salaries and incentives is also critical, both in the short-term (by preventing people from falling deeper into poverty) and in the long-term (by preserving the country’s civil service – a crucial element for Yemen’s recovery and development).
There are a lot of competing crises for the world’s attention. Yemenis, especially the most vulnerable, count on continued support at this crucial moment. Thanks to generous donors who have stood by Yemen since 2015, we have saved millions of lives, and we know this because when funding has been generous, needs reduce. When donor support falls, we see the severity of needs grow. As efforts towards peace have borne fruit with the declaration of a truce on April 1, aid agencies -with adequate funding- are ready to save lives alongside tackling the underlying drivers of this crisis.
William David Gressly United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Yemen