1. Home
  2. Issues & crises
  3. Humanitarian crisis in Yemen

Humanitarian crisis in Yemen

Humanitarian crisis in Yemen

Behind the Frontlines of Hodeidah Caption
An MSF physiotherapist works with Ali, 18, after a landmine explosion led to the amputation of his lower leg.

Yemen is in the midst of a civil war.

Indiscriminate bombings and chronic shortages of supplies and staff have led to the closure of more than half of Yemen's health facilities.

Recent outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and diphtheria and an upsurge in fighting have exacerbated the already dire humanitarian situation in Yemen.

More than three million people have been displaced since the war started in 2015. With an estimated 20 million in need of humanitarian assistance, our activities in Yemen are among our most extensive worldwide.

Today, COVID-19 is rapidly spreading across the country. MSF teams have treated hundreds of patients with respiratory symptoms in each of our COVID-19 centres in Sanaa and Aden, and other centres that we run or support in the north of Yemen have also received patients.

Help us treat the wounds of war

Our independent funding from private donors like you allows us to work in conflict zones. It means we can provide medical care where the need is greatest, with no strings attached. 

Why are we in Yemen?

Warring parties have destroyed much of the country's public infrastructure, including health facilities. Following the imposition of a blockade by the Saudi-led coalition (SLC) in 2015, import restrictions coupled with high inflation have crippled Yemenis’ access to healthcare and other essential services.

Furthermore, many of the country’s 50,000 health workers have not been paid since August 2016 and have consequently left the public health system, forced to look for other sources of income.

Since the beginning of the conflict in March 2015, MSF teams and facilities supported by MSF have treated more than 80,000 patients wounded by violence across 12 governorates.

According to the Yemen Data Project, more than 16,000 air raids have been recorded in between 2015 and 2018 - roughly 15 a day.

Abs hospital airstrike aftermath, Hajjah, Yemen Caption
A hospital worker salvages the remains of undamaged medication and equipment following a Saudi-led coalition airstrike which destroyed Abs hospital in 2016, killing 19 people.

Even where medical facilities are operational, most people are no longer able to afford the transport costs to go to them.

This means they are unable to seek timely care, and easily curable health conditions are turning deadly when left untreated.

Women often give birth at home and seek care only when complications occur. Malnutrition among children also remains high.

We opened 37 cholera treatment centres and oral rehydration points and admitted 101,475 patients in response to a cholera outbreak in 2017.

As a result of the war, it is even harder for people to access clean water, dispose of waste and get medical care.

As the cholera epidemic subsided, we began to see cases of diphtheria, a disease eradicated from most countries thanks to systematic childhood vaccinations. The last case in Yemen had been recorded in 1992.

MSF teams performed 24,600 surgical interventions in Yemen during 2018.

We saw an increase in the number of patients admitted to the emergency surgical hospital we run in Aden, not only from the frontlines but also due to an upsurge in violence within the city.

Yemen crisis timeline

Featured stories from Yemen