Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, said: “Considering how fast this crisis is growing, and the number of people it is affecting, Yemen is becoming one of the direst humanitarian crises in the world today with record malnutrition rates. But it is also among the crises that risk slipping off the radar of international donors. We cannot allow that. The European Commission is boosting its humanitarian support so that it can reach with relief more of the worst-affected people, the majority of whom are women, children and refugees. We are helping those who cannot help themselves, but we are also building bridges to rehabilitation – this is the only way to help Yemen pull out from the bottom where its chronic problems have dragged it”.
Conflict in the North is affecting around one million people, while more than 250,000 are suffering due to conflict in the South, and Yemen’s malnutrition levels are among the world’s highest with one million children suffering from acute malnutrition.
10 million Yemenis (40% of the population) live mainly on bread and tea. In some governorates like Hodeida, along the center of Yemen’s western coast, the level of global acute malnutrition is 32%, more than double the internationally recognized emergency level of 15%. The continuing influx of refugees from the Horn of Africa is adding to the humanitarian needs. Another challenge is the restricted access to those in need, caused by fighting and the repeated attacks on and kidnappings of relief workers.
The new aid allocation brings to €40 million the Commission’s 2012 humanitarian assistance to Yemen. The EU is as much as possible linking these humanitarian interventions with early recovery and development programmes (especially in the areas of food security and public health).
Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab peninsula. Over 43% of the population lives below the poverty line on less than EUR 2 a day. It has the world’s third highest rate of malnutrition.
Poverty combined with conflict, drought, refugee flows and rising food prices, has aggravated an already deep humanitarian crisis during the last year.
Since 2004 an armed conflict in the north has seen six major cycles of fighting and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. More than 310,000 have not yet been able to return to their homes. Those who have gone home now struggle with slow reconstruction and a lack of even the most basic services. The conflict has also had a severe impact on the livelihoods of a million people living close to the former fighting zones.
Flight from fighting has also displaced over 170,000 people in the South who are unable to return to their homes and have no employment prospects.
Yemen is also directly affected by the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa. Over 250,000 refugees, mainly from Somalia and Ethiopia, are stranded in the country and live in precarious conditions either in Kharaz, the only camp for refugees, or in poor urban areas.
It is very difficult to bring aid to those who need it in Yemen as a worsening security situation means that aid workers struggle to reach many areas. This leaves large numbers of displaced people isolated from essential humanitarian aid.
The European Commission maintains its long-term commitment to helping alleviate Yemen’s acute humanitarian needs. Since 1994 it has provided more than €93 million in vital assistance to the affected population.