Yemen in numbers – the startling facts about the world’s worst crisis, 4 years on

What if 92% of all Canadian children needed urgent humanitarian assistance?

That’s 7.3 million children – the same number of boys and girls needing help in Yemen right now.

Yemen’s conflict has been raging for four years now, and as with most wars, the conflict has disproportionately affected the lives of children. These children are struggling to survive the daily triple threat of bombs, disease, and starvation, along with many violations of their rights.

The latest numbers are shocking.

Save the Children has found that on average, airstrikes alone killed or injured 37 children, every 30 days last year.

And on March 26th, a senseless and bloody attack on a Save the Children supported hospital in Yemen killed five innocent children and three adults.

This airstrike landed by the hospital’s entrance on the fourth anniversary of Yemen’s conflict. In addition to those killed and missing, another eight people were wounded.

We wanted to break down what the world’s worst man-made crisis looks like in numbers:

A food crisis has put over half of the country’s population on the brink of starvation – that’s almost 16 million people. The conflict itself has severely disrupted food production and availability, including a blockade that has limited the import of desperately-needed food staples, including humanitarian supplies. What’s more, the war has meant joblessness for tens of thousands of civilians, limiting their ability to purchase what little food is available.

In numbers:

  • Right now, 5 million Yemeni children do not know where their next meal will come from.
  • Save the Children estimates more than 100 young children are dying from extreme hunger every single day.

The conflict has translated into the nearly full collapse of the health system, with only half of all the health facilities in Yemen currently functioning. This has led to a spike in child mortality from easily preventable and treatable diseases, such as diarrhea and pneumonia, along with the worst Cholera outbreak in recorded history. Not only that, but diseases which had all-but-disappeared have made a resurgence in Yemen, like Diphtheria.

In numbers:

  • Since late 2016, there have been 3 million suspected cases of Cholera in Yemen, 30% of which are in children under 5.
  • Over the course of 1.5 years in Yemen, a total of 3,153 suspected cases of Diphtheria had been reported. This is highly concerning considering globally, there is are less than 7,000 total cases reported per year.[1]
  • Overall, close to 10 million children don’t have access to adequate healthcare.

The most obvious fallout of the conflict, violence, has unfortunately become an everyday reality for the children of Yemen. Thousands of children have been killed, sustained life-changing injuries, or seen their loved ones killed in front of them because of violence in Yemen. Further, the rates of sexual violence, early and forced marriage, and recruitment of child soldiers have been on a steady incline during the past 4 years.

In numbers:

  • The use of indiscriminate weapons has already resulted in at least 2,575 children dying (half through airstrikes) – although this official number is considered by some to be just the tip of the iceberg.
  • 1,265 cases of recruitment of child soldiers were reported from October 2016 to September 2018 – once again, the true number is considered much higher than what is reported.

In case that wasn’t already enough, for children who do manage to survive the famine, diseases and violence, the reality is that they have no prospect for education. In conflict settings, without an education, children become more susceptible to exploitation and abuse, along with psychological and emotional distress. Lack of education in crisis also limits the prospect of peace, stability and development once the conflict ends.

In numbers:

  • Over 2 million children are now out of school, many of whom have been without education for the past four years. Girls are more likely to miss out on education, with one in three girls now out of school
  • At least 323 schools have suffered attacks or been occupied by armed forces.
  • In addition, 135,000 teachers have had irregular payment of their salaries, disrupting education activities in over 10,000 schools.

Despite all these challenges, Save the Children, among other NGOs, is continuing its work to reach the most vulnerable children in Yemen. Among our most critical humanitarian priorities, are child protection, education and nutrition programming.

During the past 4 years, we have reached more than 2.5 million children with crucial aid, thanks to support from the Government of Canada.

But what’s next for this ongoing brutal conflict?

While the world cautiously watches a fragile truce between warring parties, the conditions for children and their families, remains critical. At Save the Children, we’re asking international governments to increase diplomatic pressure and intensify efforts to find an end to the conflict. We’re also calling on Canada to discontinue arms sales to all parties in the conflict, and to unfailingly speak out on violations of international law and hold perpetrators to account.

In Yemen itself, we’re asking all warring parties to allow complete and unobstructed humanitarian access so organizations, like Save the Children, can continue providing lifesaving aid, until a resolution is reached.

Written by Alejandro Terrones, a Humanitarian Advisor at Save the Children Canada. 

Note: Data referenced in this blog is sourced from the Yemen humanitarian coordination system, of which Save the Children is heavily involved.

[1] As charted by the WHO: