Crisis in Yemen

In Yemen, a child dies every 10 minutes from preventable causes. For the nearly 360,000 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 Yemen's warring parties, signed a United Nations – led partial ceasefire agreement last December, five children were recently killed in an attack on the Tahita District,  south of Hodeida, while playing in their homes.

“In Yemen, children can no longer safely do the things that all children love to do – like go to school or spend time with their friends outside,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, of the violence, which despite the ceasefire still kills eight children every day as they play outside with their friends or on their walk to and from school.  “The war can reach them wherever they are, even in their own homes.”

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the number of people in acute need is 27 percent higher than last year, when the Yemen crisis was already the world's most acute.

“The impact of the conflict in Yemen runs deep and has not spared a single child,” says UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Geert Cappelaere of the war, which has killed or severely injured over 6,700 children and displaced nearly 1.5 million. “Mind-boggling violence over the past four years, high levels of poverty and decades of conflicts, neglect and deprivation, are putting a heavy strain on Yemeni society, tearing apart its social fabric – fundamental for any society and especially for children.” 

With basic services like water, healthcare and sanitation all but collapsed, 28 million Yemenis won't survive without deliveries of fuel and humanitarian aid. 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. With shelling in Hodeida still continuing, desperate residents are reportedly digging through the trash for food.

To meet children's urgent needs, UNICEF is ramping up support for 1.5 million of the country’s poorest families with emergency cash assistance to ward off extreme measures some families may feel they have no choice to take, like putting their children to work and marrying off their girls.

UNICEF also remains vigilant in its protection of malnourished children, whose families struggle to care for with most of Yemen’s hospitals destroyed. For them UNICEF nutrition centers are a lifeline, where in 2018 over 345,000 children suffering from the most deadly form of malnutrition were brought back to life.

To continue responding to children’s needs, UNICEF asks for supporters' help. In 2019, UNICEF will need $542 million to fund what has become the largest humanitarian operation in the world.

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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9 Reasons Why We Must End Malnutrition in Yemen Now:

  1. An estimated 12 million Yemenis, including 2 million children, will be dependent on food assistance in 2019.
  2. Nearly 360,000 children under 5 years are suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and require treatment
  3. Only 15 percent of children are eating the minimum acceptable diet for survival, growth and development.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.