A man holds his young daughter as they stand outside their destroyed home in Yemen

This family is one of millions in need of help – © Thomas Glass/ICRC

After nearly two years of conflict, 18.8 million people in Yemen need humanitarian aid.

That’s more than in any other country, even Syria.

Over 14 million people don’t have enough food or water. Seven million of them are classed by the UN as ‘severely food insecure’.

This means that that they don’t know where their next meal is coming from and risk starvation.

A full-scale famine is possible in Yemen this year.

But how did things get so bad?

And what are the Red Cross and others doing about it?

1. Yemen was poor even before the conflict.
In Yemen, a man carrying a huge cardboard box on his back struggles to walk up a rocky mountain leaning on a stick

Restrictions on goods entering Yemen force people to make difficult journeys to find food – © Akram Al-Rasni/ICRC

The Red Cross now supports 3.3 million people in Yemen.

But Yemen was already one of the poorest countries in the Middle East before the current conflict got worse in March 2015.

Around half of children were malnourished and living in poverty.

Yemen did not grow enough crops to feed itself before the current crisis and imported 90 per cent of its food.

Now, many of Yemen’s ports have closed because of the conflict. Very little food can enter the country.

2. Children are disproportionately affected.
A boy in Yemen rolls tire with tents in the background

“I dream of going back to school… I miss my home,” says Damaj – © Mohammed Yaseen/ICRC

Around 7,100 people have died in the conflict in the last two years.

Another 36,900 people have been wounded.

Yet according to Unicef, approximately 63,000 children died last year from preventable causes. These were often linked to malnutrition made worse by the conflict.

And now, 3.3 million children and their mothers are acutely malnourished. This is more than the total population of Wales.

The Red Cross is helping to tackle hunger by distributing rice, beans, lentils and other staples to more than 210,400 people around the country.

We also support a maternal health clinic with our partners, the Yemen Red Crescent.

In six months the clinic helped over 4,600 mothers and their babies, most of whom were malnourished.

3. Families have lost their livelihoods.
Close-up portrain of Yasim, a man in Yemen

“Our life is very difficult at the moment,” Yasim said. © Mohammed Yaseen/ICRC

Approximately 2.2 million people have had to flee their homes because of the fighting. That’s twice the number of people living in Birmingham.

When they leave, people also lose their livelihoods.

Without money or land, they can neither buy nor grow their food.

Yahia Hizam fled his home to escape the fighting and keep his children safe. Now he tries to keep busy with odd jobs and outdoor work.

“I am unemployed and my large family is a financial burden…” he said.

“I keep wondering what might come and what I can do for my children to make things easier for them.”

4. Over half of Yemen’s health care facilities have closed.
A destroyed hospital room in Yemen, with broken beds and damaged equipment

Three patients had to be pulled out of their beds when this hospital was shelled – © Wael Al Absi/ICRC

A staggering 55 per cent of Yemen’s hospitals and health facilities have been destroyed or forced to close because of shortages since the conflict started.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) helps over 100 hospitals and health centres keep going.

Together we have helped over 30,000 people get the surgery they need.

The Red Cross has also trained surgeons, donated generators to power equipment, taught first aid and supplied 200,000 vials of insulin for diabetics.

5. Water shortages predicted before the conflict have become acute.
An engineer from the Red Cross and workers from the local water board repair a pipe and valve in a trench in Yemen

A Red Cross engineer helps connect water supplies – © ICRC

Before the current fighting began, it was predicted that Yemen could run out of water within ten years.

Around 50 per cent of people didn’t have access to piped water before the crisis.

Now, 14.4 million Yemenis need help to get safe drinking water and sanitation. Imagine nearly twice the population of London in this situation.

Dirty water can cause disease, such as diarrhoea, that leads to death. This is particularly serious for children.

The Red Cross and our partners the Red Crescent have helped bring clean water to people in seven cities and repair sewage systems.

This includes installing water pumps, providing electricity so they can work and training technicians to operate them.

The Red Cross has worked in Yemen since 1962 and will stay as long as we are needed.

Please donate to the Yemen Crisis Appeal to help keep this vital work going.