Yemen conflict: A living hell for children

Eighty per cent of all children in the country require humanitarian assistance.

Yemen. A girl suffering from severe malnutrition.
30 October 2018


NEW: The brutal war on children in Yemen continues unabated (25/02/2019)


Information below as of 31 December 2018. Please see UNICEF Yemen Humanitarian Situation Report for latest.


SANA'A, Yemen – The conflict has made Yemen a living hell for children. Over 11 million children – 80 per cent of all children in the country – require humanitarian assistance.

Worsening years of underdevelopment, attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure and lack of salary payments for most civil servants have pushed basic services for children to the brink.

Children face food shortages, disease, displacement and an acute lack of access to basic social services.

Every single one of these challenges gets worse with every day that the war continues.

The chances of survival are becoming slimmer by the day for the nearly 400,000 severe acutely malnourished children fighting for their lives in Yemen.

The rapid depreciation of the Yemeni Rial over the last months has compounded the country’s economic crisis and led to a surge in food prices which threaten to push an additional 1.8 to 2.8 million children into acute food insecurity, and possibly severe acute malnutrition.   

The most vulnerable families need emergency cash assistance to help stay alive.

UNICEF and humanitarian partners have stepped up their efforts to address the needs of children and families in Yemen through cash assistance to the most vulnerable, but the scale of the situation is enormous. A third cycle of an emergency cash transfer for the most vulnerable 1.5 million families or nearly 9 million people is helping to keep them alive.

Hudaydah Port is a critical entry point for lifesaving supplies, fuel and commercial imports into Yemen.

UNICEF remains deeply concerned about the impact that fighting in the port area is having on children. An estimated 570,000 people have been displaced across Hudaydah since violence erupted in June.

UN agencies and front-line partners are providing food boxes, hygiene kits, transit kits, cash, emergency rations and non-food item kits to displaced families.

Over 80,000 households are provided each day with nearly 50 million litres of safe drinking water and health teams are helping to halt the spread of cholera and other life-threatening diseases.

An estimated 16 million people do not have access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene, including 1.2 million people in acute need.

The situation is made worse by a steep rise in fuel prices that is already impacting transport, water, electricity, health and sanitation services. The impact of the war on water and sanitation infrastructure has already cut off 8.6 million children from regular access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene services. This presents a major risk for the resurgence of cholera and other waterborne diseases in Yemen.

More than half of all health facilities in Yemen are no longer functioning because they are damaged or a lack an operating budget and staff.

Health workers have not been paid for over 2 years. Right from birth, the very survival of children in Yemen is under threat, with many born out of hospitals, without skilled birth attendants, exposing babies and mothers to the risk of infections and death. Vaccination services have been disrupted, leaving children unprotected from preventable diseases.


Yemen crisis: Learn more

Yemen crisis; What you need to know

UNICEF Yemen appeal 2018

UNICEF Yemen Humanitarian Situation Reports

UNICEF Middle East and North Africa