How the Yemen conflict flare-up affects its humanitarian crisis

Al Jazeera takes a look at the effect seven years of war has had on the Arab world’s poorest country.

Displaced Yemenis receive humanitarian aid provided by the World Food Programme (WFP) in the Khokha district of Yemen's war-ravaged western province of Hodeida, on March 29, 2021. (Photo by Khaled Ziad / AFP)
Though exact figures are difficult to gather, the UN estimates that more than 377,000 people have died due to the conflict as of late 2021. [File: Khaled Ziad/AFP]

The flare-up in the Yemen conflict, with the Houthis targeting an oil facility in Abu Dhabi and a retaliatory attack by the Saudi-led coalition on Sanaa, has raised fears of a worsening humanitarian crisis in the country where the situation is already dire.

The latest escalation came after the Houthis launched a deadly attack against several targets inside the United Arab Emirates on Monday, including an under-construction extension of Abu Dhabi international airport.

The UAE, which alongside Saudi Arabia has been involved in a seven-year war against the Houthis to stymie the Iran-aligned movement’s advance and restore the government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, has pledged a strong response.

Years of UN-brokered mediation have failed to break the deadlock with the body, in recent weeks, warning of a renewed determination by the warring parties to force their adversary into submission.

Al Jazeera takes a look at the effect the war has had on the Arab world’s poorest country, one that the UN has described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Death toll

Though exact figures are difficult to gather, the UN estimates that more than 377,000 people have died due to the conflict as of late 2021.

In a report published late last year, the United Nations Development Programme said roughly 60 percent of deaths were the result of indirect causes, including famine and preventable diseases. The rest were caused by front-line combat and air raids.

The report noted that children account for 70 percent of deaths.

Aid agencies say this is due to the vulnerability of infants and the complexity of the protracted conflict, which has taken a heavy toll on social and health services.


According to the World Food Programme (WFP), some 16.2 million Yemenis, or about 45 percent of the total population, are food insecure.

The UN agency has warned that more than five million people were on the brink of famine while 50,000 others were living in famine-like conditions.

The food crisis has been compounded by a sharp increase in the price of basic commodities, which have seen a 30 to 70 percent spike since the start of the conflict.

Malnutrition among children and pregnant or breastfeeding women is another pressing concern, with WFP warning that the two groups were particular victims of malnutrition.


The conflict has also forced an estimated 4.6 million Yemenis to flee, according to UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) figures.

In the first two weeks of 2022 alone, 3,468 people (578 families) were displaced, the UN agency said in a recent report.

Internally displaced (IDP) Yemenis face a plethora of challenges and are more at risk of famine and preventable diseases.

UNHCR estimates that some 67 percent of Yemen’s internally displaced, or some 2.6 million people, are currently food insecure.

Children and women are also disproportionately affected by the conflict, representing 79 percent of the total IDP population.

Bleak prospect

With no end in sight for the conflict, analysts say Yemen faces a bleak future.

Earlier this month, the UN sounded the alarm on the ongoing hostilities, saying the warring parties have accelerated efforts to claim victory on the battlefront.

“Seven years down the road of war, the prevailing belief of all warring sides seems to be inflicting sufficient harm on the other will force them into submission,” Hans Grundberg, the UN secretary general’s envoy to Yemen, told a Security Council Meeting.

“However, there is no sustainable long-term solution to be found on the battlefield.”

Source: Al Jazeera