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 2 200 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 and houses, bridges and other critical infrastructure have been destroyed or damaged. Reports of grave violations against women and children have increased. Despite the massive 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. Imports of basic food items, fuel and medicine have become more difficult and costlier as a result of increasing restrictions. Water and power plants, factories, markets and shops have stopped functioning in many locations, or have been damaged by the war. Salaries of public servants have not been paid for over a year, and inflation and a liquidity crisis have further exposed civilains to poverty and destitution. According to the UN, unless all restrictions on imports are lifted immediately, Yemen will witness an unprecedented famine.
Since the beginning of the conflict in 2015, the EU has allocated €233.7 million in humanitarian aid to the Yemen crisis. The latest addition of €37 million in life-saving assistance to the Yemeni population was announced by Commissioner Christos Stylianides at the April 2018 pledging conference in Geneva. A further €66 million was mobilised in EU development aid to support resilience and early recovery initiatives, including the provision of basic services and sustainable livelihoods. EU humanitarian aid supports therapeutic feeding centres, which treats malnourished children, as well as healthcare and food security programmes. In response to the cholera epidemic, the EU funds cholera treatment centres and prevention activities. In addition, the EU supports the United Nations Humanitarian Air Services (UNHAS), which provides critical and reliable air transport to humanitarian aid workers and cargo.
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, sanitation infrastructure and the banking system - will be further eroded. Humanitarian organisations are struggling to meet the increasing needs of the population, which are driven by market disruptions and a lack of access to basic commodities due to fast-rising prices.
In June 2018, fighting started around the city port of Hodeidah, which is a critical facility for both commercial and humanitarian imports to the country, and delivery of life-saving assistance to the Yemeni population.
Despite access and security challenges, humanitarian partners continue to provide assistance to the affected population across the country.
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.