UNICEF – Humanitarian Action for Children - Yemen

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Map of Yemen
UNICEF photo: two girls wearing unicef-labelled school backpacks walk towards buildings with damage from shelling © UNICEF Yemen/2017/A. Obadi Girls attend classes in a partially destroyed school building in Al Hudaydah. In Yemen, 31 per cent of girls are out of school, a situation made worse by the conflict.


In 2018, UNICEF and partners plan for:

children under 5 treated for SAM

5.3 million

children vaccinated against polio


children provided with psychosocial support

2018 Requirements: US$378,090,847

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Total people in need: 22.2 million1
Total children (<18) in need: 11.3 million2

Total people to be reached in 2018: 11.1 million
Total children to be reached in 2018: 6.8 million

Yemen is one of the chronically under developed countries facing the probably world's largest, most complex humanitarian crises. Almost the entire country (22.2 million people) needs humanitarian assistance. Conflict has caused the internal displacement of 2 million people, left 1 million public sector workers without pay for a year, and undermined access to ports and airports, obstructing essential humanitarian and commercial deliveries.3 Coping mechanisms are becoming desperate, with increased household borrowing. The recent outbreaks of Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD)/cholera, symptoms of collapsing public systems, has now reached almost over one million cases. On top of this, the diphtheria outbreak in early 2018 has now reached over 1,200 cases.4 In addition, 16 million people lack access to safe water.5 Children are the primary victims of this conflict: more than 1,100 were verified as killed or maimed in the last year alone.6 The consequences of the war threaten millions more, due to growing food insecurity, poor water and sanitation, and the spread of preventable diseases and 394,000 children under 5 currently suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM).7 The damage and closure of schools and health facilities threaten children's access to education and health services for years to come.

Humanitarian strategy

2018 programme targets


  • 276,000 children under 5 treated for severe acute malnutrition9
  • 4.2 million children under 5 provided with micronutrient interventions


  • 5.3 million children vaccinated against polio and 912,000 vaccinated against measles
  • 811,000 pregnant and lactating women receiving primary health care


  • 5.5 million people provided with access to drinking water through operations, maintenance, and rehabilitation of public water systems
  • 3.4 million people in AWD/cholera-affected areas provided with household-level water treatment and disinfection10

Child protection

  • 594,937 children provided with psychosocial support
  • 1.46 million million people received mine risk education


  • 639,000 children provided with improved access to education through school rehabilitation
  • 429,000 children provided with psychosocial support and peace-building education

Communication for Development

  • 4 million people in cholera risk areas provided with key information on prevention and response to cholera
  • 2.2 million people engaged to adopt 14 life-saving and protective practices11

UNICEF’s humanitarian operations in Yemen are decentralized, with five field offices managing interventions locally, with implementing partners.8 Considering the collapse of public services, UNICEF improves access to primary healthcare by providing supplies, covering operational costs, as well as monitoring and responding to communicable disease outbreaks. Scale-up of community management of malnutrition remains essential, especially in hard-to-reach areas. UNICEF's WASH strategy is integrated with nutrition and food security targeting immediate needs and strengthening long-term resilience of communities. UNICEF ensures uninterrupted access to safe water through rehabilitation works, and support for sustainable local management of water systems. The integrated WASH, health and C4D AWD/cholera prevention/response plan focuses on high-risk AWD areas, diarrhea treatment, chlorination of water sources, rehabilitation of waste water systems and hygiene awareness. In child protection, UNICEF targets the most vulnerable children with interventions including victim assistance, family tracing/reunification, documentation of child rights violations, mine risk awareness and psychosocial support (PSS). UNICEF is also scaling up its education response in 2018 and aims to provide a conducive environment to avoid further student dropouts and retention of out-of-school children in education by rehabilitating damaged schools, establishing temporary safe learning spaces and providing learning/pedagogical kits, PSS and peace-building education.

Results from 2017

As of 31 December, UNICEF had US$ 245.2 million funds available for its US$ 339 million appeal (72 per cent funded).12 Funding included US$49.3 million towards AWD/cholera response. UNICEF responded immediately through an integrated health, nutrition, WASH and C4D plan. Nearly 6 million people gained access to safe drinking water13, 11.5 million benefitted from water treatment, and 18.4 million people participated in awareness and behavior change activities. UNICEF 's health and nutrition response included supply and operational support to health facilities, which enabled 3,069 health facilities to stay open this year. This support was crucial to vaccinate 4.8 million children against polio, and delivering healthcare to almost 596,000 pregnant and lactating women. Nearly 227,000 children with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) were treated, but needs continued to outstrip the response. UNICEF was able to verify and document 88 per cent of all protection cases through the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanisms14 and provided psychosocial support to over 519,400 children in child-friendly spaces. Nearly 1.7 million people accessed mine risk awareness education. Despite the delay to the 2017/18 school year, UNICEF distributed 509,500 school bags, opened safe learning spaces benefitting 552,700 children and provided psychosocial support in schools to over 431,100 students.

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Funding requirements

In line with Yemen’s inter-agency 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan, UNICEF is requesting $378,090,847 to meet the humanitarian needs of children in 2018. With the current breakdown of public services, including the non-payment of salaries for public sector workers for more than a year, UNICEF urgently needs funding to support basic health, nutrition, child protection, education, and water and sanitation services across Yemen. Without additional funding, UNICEF will be unable to provide life-saving services; respond to the onset of emergencies; and maintain and strengthen public systems.

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1 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 2018 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 Daily Diphtheria Outbreak Report, Electronic Disease Early Warning System, 1 March 2018.
5 Ibid.
6 From October 2016 to September 2017, as per the Country Task Force on the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism.
7 Ibid.
8 Additionally, in coordination with the Humanitarian Country Team, UNICEF leads the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education and nutrition clusters and the child protection sub-cluster and is an active member of the health cluster.
9 In 2018 there will be additional interventions to reach this target, including more mobile clinics, outpatient therapeutic programs in more remote areas, and an expansion of community health volunteer network, which require higher operational costs.
10 The number of new AWD/cholera cases has now decreased for the 25 consecutive week.
11 The ‘14 key practices’ addressed through regular C4D interventions include: uptake of antenatal care and safe delivery practices, routine immunization, infant and young child feeding including exclusive breastfeeding, prevention of malnutrition, hand washing with soap, household water treatment and storage, safe disposal of human waste, promotion of on-time enrolment at 6 years and girls education, as well as addressing social norms around child marriage, creating demand for Birth Registration and prevention of child trafficking and child recruitment. The ‘4 key practices’ for cholera response include: household water disinfection, hand washing with soap, appropriate food handling as well as appropriate care practices at home (disinfection, rehydration and immediate referral to health facility).
12 Available funds include US$ 206 million raised against the 2017 appeal and US$ 39.3 million carried forward from the previous year.
13 People living in areas at high risk for cholera.
14 The current total appeal for 2018 has been revised from US$ 334,593,650 based on the 2018 inter-agency Humanitarian Response Plan which was not finalized until January 2018. The current appeal also reflects cross-sectoral costs.
15 Funds available include funds received against 2017 HAC appeal which have been carried forward to 2018 (figures are provisional and subject to change) as well as additional contributions from multi-lateral organizations which will contribute towards 2018 HAC Results. These additional contributions have been mobilized to strengthen social protection, WASH and health systems for short- and long-term needs, including those arising from humanitarian situations.