Crisis in Yemen

In Yemen, a child dies every 10 minutes from preventable causes. For the nearly 400,000 severely malnourished children under 5, any day could be their last 

Civil war has brought Yemen to the brink of social collapse and left millions of children without food and water. Although 2018 ended on a hopeful note thanks to United Nations-sponsored peace talks between Yemen's warring parties, the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has warned that the “severity of needs is deepening,” with the number of people in acute need, a staggering 27 per cent higher than last year,  when it was already the most acute crisis on the globe.

The peace talks resulted in an agreement to a prisoner swap and ceasefire in the port of Hodeida, a crucial point of entry for humanitarian aid. But a  recent escalation of violence in the besieged city means that safety and stability for Yemen's children are still by no means assured.

“The toll of almost four years of fighting is mind boggling, with more than 2,700 children recruited to fight an adults’ war," says Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, after his visit to Yemen, where UNICEF has mounted its largest humanitarian operation in the world. "Over 6,700 children were verified killed or severely injured. Nearly 1.5 million children have been displaced, many of them living a mere shadow of what childhood should be."

With basic services like water, health care and sanitation all but collapsed, 28 million Yemenis have been forced to rely on deliveries of fuel and humanitarian aid. But with continued shelling in Hodeida disrupting supplies families need to survive, desperate residents are reportedly digging through the trash for food. 18.5 million people are already food insecure – a number projected to rise by 3.5 million. An estimated 12 million Yemenis, including 2 million children, are dependent on food assistance. Nearly 1.8 million children under age 5 are malnourished.

To meet children's urgent needs, UNICEF is ramping up support for malnourished children — increasing the number of treatment centers and training community health workers to identify early stages of malnutrition, which can have far-reaching ill effects. Tireless efforts continue to prevent children from getting sick, including an ongoing polio vaccination campaign that has reached over 4.1 million children so far.

To continue responding to children’s needs, UNICEF needs supporters' help. 

The War in Yemen Is a War on Children
The war in Yemen has left 400,000 children severely malnourished. UNICEF Yemen is working tirelessly to help get them the lifesaving nutrition they desperately need. Learn how you can help too.
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8 Reasons Why We Must End Malnutrition in Yemen Now:

  1. Nearly 394,000 children under 5 years are suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and require treatment
  2. Only 15 percent of children are eating the minimum acceptable diet for survival, growth and development.
  3. A child with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) is 12 times more likely to die than a healthy child. A child with moderate acute malnutrition is four times more likely to die than a healthy child.
  4. If children with SAM are not treated, one in five of these children will die. With more than half of Yemen’s health facilities no longer functioning, this is a significant risk.
  5. Vaccination coverage is less than 50 percent for some preventable diseases, leaving children more exposed to diseases that can cause or exacerbate malnutrition, which Yemen’s collapsing health system cannot address.
  6. According to The State of the World's Children 2017, Yemen has the fourth highest level of chronic malnutrition — also known as stunting — in the world. In Sa’ada governorate, 70 percent of children under age 5 are stunted.
  7. Stunting impacts a child’s physical and cognitive development, lowers their immunity, keeps them from excelling in school and leads to decreased productivity as adults.
  8. Malnourished women of reproductive age have a higher chance of giving birth to smaller babies, continuing the cycle of malnutrition into future generations.



UNICEF and partners are working tirelessly in Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, Bangladesh and around the world to save and protect children. With a presence in 190 countries and territories, UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world.