European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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© European Union, 2019 (photographer: Peter Biro)

After more than 6 years of conflict, Yemen remains the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Millions of Yemenis are displaced, destitute and hungry. More than half the population is food insecure. The situation only worsened after COVID-19 hit and the flow of remittances to the country drastically shrank.

There is a need to increase aid, grant humanitarian access and address the political and economic drivers of the crisis. The EU remains committed to providing humanitarian support for those affected by the Yemen crisis.

What are the needs?

Conflict across Yemen continues to endanger civilians, trigger displacement and damage civilian infrastructure such as hospitals and schools. Imports of food, fuel and medicines are restricted, leading to shortages and high prices. Highly needed humanitarian aid is delivered in a very challenging operating environment, mainly due to the many access restrictions.

This year, Yemen saw a surge in violence on different front lines as well as heavy rains and floods leading to new population displacements. Three COVID-19 waves have stretched the country’s public health system, which was already close to collapsing. The pandemic has also deprived millions of Yemenis of remittances sent by their families abroad as their incomes shrunk due to low oil prices, lockdowns and other restrictions.

Close to 70% of the population requires humanitarian assistance or protection. Around 16.2 million people face food insecurity, more than half of them children. For the first time in 2 years, Yemen was again on the brink of famine in 2021, mostly in areas with conflict, displacement and limited humanitarian access. Acute malnutrition rates among children under 5 are the highest ever recorded, with over 500,000 cases in the South alone.

Despite the huge scale of needs, the work of humanitarian organisations is extremely challenging. They are regularly exposed to violence, serious impediments and access restrictions to reach people in need.

How are we helping?

In 2021, the EU has allocated €134 million in humanitarian aid for those affected by conflict and famine in Yemen.

Since the beginning of the war in 2015, the EU has contributed over €1.1 billion to respond to the crisis in Yemen, including €692 million in humanitarian aid and €393 million in development assistance, among other funding.

EU humanitarian aid includes food assistance, health care and education as well as water, shelter, and improved hygiene services in conflict-affected areas and to displaced populations. Our funding also contributes to reducing malnutrition rates and supports the treatment of severely malnourished children who are at high risk of dying.

We also help provide emergency assistance and basic health care to migrants who transit through Yemen to Saudi Arabia. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many find themselves stranded and exposed to hardship and abuse in a country at war.

Due to recent outbreaks, including one of history’s largest cholera outbreaks, epidemics preparedness and response was already a key focus for EU humanitarian aid before COVID-19. This is now further strengthened. To reduce illness and death from waterborne diseases, the EU also finances quick impact projects aimed at repairing and rehabilitating water and sanitation infrastructure.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, EU partner organisations have put in place infection, prevention and control measures. They raise awareness and pilot a community shielding approach to protect people most at risk of severe infection.

EU humanitarian partners continue to help populations in active war fronts in the north and south of the country but often face access constraints and security challenges. They help improve living conditions in the numerous displacement camps across the country by ensuring shelter, electricity, and water and sanitation facilities.

EU funding helps to provide an immediate emergency assistance package. This includes essential household goods complemented with cash distribution to newly displaced populations, as well as food, education and health care. There is also special attention for people who have suffered bodily harm and psychological shock, including from mines and unexploded ordnances. The injured and disabled are assisted with comprehensive rehabilitation services.

Yemen’s fragile education system has further suffered from the consequences of war. Some schools have been targeted or used as military premises while others are overstretched due to an overwhelming number of pupils.

According to the UN, 1 in 5 schools can no longer be used as a direct result of the conflict. The EU funds education projects that aim to rehabilitate classrooms and get children back to school. We also support mine risk education, given the high contamination with explosives after years of war.

Finally, EU support to the United Nations Humanitarian Air Services (UNHAS) allows humanitarian aid workers to access the field and populations in need.

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