© Guillaume Binet/MYOP


Ordinary people are bearing the brunt of an increasingly brutal conflict

Yemen is in the midst of a civil war.

Since March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition has been fighting anti-government Houthi forces, resulting in widespread destruction, bombing and gun battles.

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Recent outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and diphtheria and an upsurge in fighting have exacerbated the already dire humanitarian situation in Yemen.

More than three million people have been displaced since the war started in 2015.

With an estimated 20 million in need of humanitarian assistance, our activities in Yemen are among our most extensive worldwide.

We work in 13 hospitals and health centres in 12 governorates and support 20 public health facilities across the country.

Malnutrition in Yemen

Since the beginning of 2018, MSF hospitals and supported health facilities have treated around 3,300 cases of malnutrition.

While the food situation in Yemen is dire, MSF and other non-governmental organisations cannot provide a global view on the nutritional status the entire population of Yemen. Insecurity and access constraints do not allow us to conduct large-scale surveys.

MSF Dr Roberto Scaini explains to a father that his son has pneumonia and shows signs of moderate malnutrition. Haydan hospital, April 2017.

There are areas where cases of malnourished children are rising. For example, admissions to MSF's intensive therapeutic feeding centre in Khamer hospital, Amran governorate, doubled in September 2018 compared to the previous year.

But in the areas where MSF is working, data collected through our nutritional programmes do not suggest the existence of “pockets of famine” – meaning a situation in which rates of global acute malnutrition are very high, not only among children but also among teenagers and adults, with high mortality rates. 

Malnutrition has been present in Yemen since before the ongoing conflict. Over the past three years, deteriorating economic conditions – including rising prices of basic commodities, such as fuel and food, and a strong decline of the Yemeni Ryial – have worsened living conditions and people's access to healthcare.  

Yemen conflict timeline

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Yemen: Key information

Collapsed health system

Warring parties have destroyed much of the country's public infrastructure, including health facilities. Following the imposition of a blockade by the Saudi-led coalition in 2015, import restrictions coupled with high inflation have crippled Yemenis' access to healthcare and other essential services.

Furthermore, many of the country's 50,000 health workers have not been paid since August 2016 and have consequently left the public health system, forced to look for other sources of income.

War and violence

Since the beginning of the conflict in March 2015 and until the end of 2017, MSF treated more than 72,000 patients wounded by violence in our medical facilities and MSF-supported clinics.

According to the Yemen Data Project, more than 16,000 air raids have been recorded in the last three years - roughly 15 a day.

MSF physiotherapist Elizabeth Braga conducts a physiotherapy session mid-surgery on a child with burns to 30 percent of his body. The physiotherapy session reduces the pain felt by the patient post-surgery.
Neglected health needs

Even where medical facilities are operational, most people are no longer able to afford the transport costs to go to them.

This means they are unable to seek timely care, and easily curable health conditions are turning deadly when left untreated. Women often give birth at home and seek care only when complications occur. Malnutrition among children also remains high.

Cholera and diphtheria

We opened 37 cholera treatment centres and oral rehydration points and admitted 101,475 patients in response to a cholera outbreak in 2017.

Because of the war it is even harder for people to access clean water, dispose of waste and get medical care. As the cholera epidemic subsided, we began to see cases of diphtheria, a disease eradicated from most countries thanks to systematic childhood vaccinations. The last case in Yemen had been recorded in 1992.

This is the second time within a few weeks Reda has brought her son Muhatasein to the MSF cholera treatment centre in Qaeda hospital, Ibb Governorate. September 2017.
Surgical interventions

MSF teams performed 19,728 surgical interventions in Yemen during 2017. We saw an increase in the number of patients admitted to the emergency surgical hospital we run in Aden, not only from the frontlines, but also due to an upsurge in violence within the city.

Renal failure treatment

Since 2015, four of Yemen's 32 kidney treatment centres have been forced to close. The 28 remaining centres are running out of essential supplies, so treatment is often interrupted.

We support six dialysis treatment centres and over the past two years have imported more than 800 tons of dialysis supplies and provided over 83,000 dialysis sessions for some 800 patients. More than 4,400 renal failure patients remain in urgent need of care.

A man undergoes dialysis in Al-Jumhori hospital in Sana’a. May 2016.

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