Yemen remains the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. The country has been devastated by a war between forces loyal to the internationally-recognised government and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement. An estimated 22.2 million people - 80% of the population - are in need of humanitarian assistance or protection. This includes 11.3 million deemed to be in acute need; an increase of more than one million people since June 2017. The country is also suffering the largest cholera outbreak ever recorded in modern history, with over one million suspected cases reported in 2017 and over 2200 related deaths.
Millions of Yemenis are affected by a triple man-made tragedy: the brutal armed conflict, a looming famine and the world's largest ever single-year cholera outbreak. Civilians are facing serious risks to their safety, well-being and basic rights. All parties to the conflict have repeatedly violated International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and houses, bridges and other critical infrastructure have been destroyed or damaged. Reports of grave violations against women and children have increased. Despite the tremendous scale of humanitarian needs—Yemen is classified by the UN as a Level 3 emergency—the country remains a neglected crisis, both financially and politically.
The government is no longer able to deliver basic services to people in need, including basic healthcare, nutrition services, water and electricity supply, and social safety net services. The humanitarian situation is rapidly deteriorating as a result of spiralling violence between the warring parties and access restrictions imposed by the Saudi-led military coalition in the north since 6 November 2017. Import of basic food items, fuel and medicine have become more difficult and costlier as a result of increasing restrictions imposed. Water and power plants, factories, markets and shops stopped functioning in many locations, or have been damaged by the war. Salaries of public servants in Houthi controlled areas have not been paid for over a year, inflation and a liquidity crisis further expose civilains to poverty and destitution. According to the UN, unless all restrictions on imports are lifted immediately, Yemen will witness the largest famine of the last decades.
During 2015 and 2016, the EU allocated €120 million in humanitarian aid to the Yemen crisis. In 2017, the EU provided €76.7 million in life-saving assistance to the Yemeni populations. During the April 2017 pledging conference in Geneva, Commissioner Christos Stylianides announced €46 million in humanitarian aid; in July, an additional €5.7 million was made available for cholera response; a further €25 million were allocated in December 2017 for distribution of food and nutritional complements by the World Food Programme (WFP), as well as for humanitarian logistical and transport capacity by the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS).
This brings the total of EU humanitarian aid to Yemen since the beginning of the conflict to €196.7million. EU humanitarian aid prioritises health, nutrition, food security—including the support for therapeutic feeding centres where malnourished children are treated. An additional €70 million were mobilised in EU development aid in 2017 to support resilience and early recovery.
However, the immediate needs of the people are continuously growing. In the absence of a ceasefire and a durable political solution, compounded by increasing violence and restrictions in humanitarian access, the food security situation will continue to deteriorate. More children will become malnourished, new disease outbreaks will occur, and the country’s institutions - including its public health and sanitation infrastructure, and the banking system - will be further eroded. Humanitarian actors are struggling to meet the increasing needs of the population, which are driven by market disruptions and lack of access to basic commodities due to fast-rising prices.
The EU has repeatedly urged the Coalition to ensure sustained and sufficient access for both humanitarian and commercial commodities into Yemen through all the country's ports. The delivery of life-saving supplies is critical for the Yemeni population and must be facilitated by all parties to the conflict.
The EU reiterates its firm belief that there cannot be a military solution to the conflict. Violence will just protract the horrific suffering of millions of civilians. The EU calls on all the parties to respect International Humanitarian Law, to urgently agree on a cessation of hostilities, and engage in a negotiation process.