Yemen: Crisis update - January 2018

MSF’s current activities in Yemen

MSF is in Yemen to support the Yemeni populations affected by the conflict on all sides of the frontlines. We work in 13 hospitals and health centres and provide support to more than 20 hospitals or health centres across 11 Yemeni governorates: Taiz, Aden, Ad Dhale, Sa’ada, Amran, Hajjah, Ibb, Sana’a, Abyan, Shabwa and Lahj.

Yemen is one of MSF’s largest missions of the world in terms of personnel, with approximately 1,827 national staff and 93 international staff.




Key figures

  • Population: 27.4 million (OCHA)
  • An estimated 22.2 million in need of humanitarian or protection support (OCHA)
  • 17 million people food insecure (OCHA)
  • 14.8 million people in need of basic healthcare (OCHA)
  • An estimated 4.5 million children and pregnant or lactating women are acutely malnourished (OCHA)
  • 2.9 million of internally displaced people and returnees (OCHA)
  • 1,900 out of 3,507 health facilities in 16 governorates are either non-functional or partially functioning (WHO)
  • 9,245 conflict-related civilians deaths and 52,807 injuries (WHO – 12/17)

Medical figures From March 2015 to December 2017

  • Patients treated for intentional physical violence, including war wounds, in MSF facilities: 72,291
  • Emergency room patients received in MSF facilities & MSF supported facilities: 718,802
  • Surgical interventions performed by MSF: 54,313
  • Children admitted to paediatric ward (non-violence cases): 23,411
  • Deliveries: 43,890
  • General consultations for internal displaced people: 205,240
  • Malaria cases treated: 10,291
  • Malnutrition cases treated: 9,515
  • Patients admitted to MSF Cholera Treatment Centres: 107,966

In 2017, MSF sent 1,496 tonnes of medical supplies and equipment to Yemen. Between March 2015 and December 2017, we sent 3,912 tonnes.

A large-scale humanitarian emergency

The escalation in fighting in Yemen has created a large-scale humanitarian emergency, with the war and blockade taking a heavy toll on civilians. The collapse of the health system and the deterioration of living conditions are having tangible and devastating effects on the population.

The blockade, still in place for commercial goods and some humanitarian aid since 2015, was strengthened in November 2017. It has a deep impact on access to food, water and healthcare for Yemenis and on the economic situation in the country. Limiting imports to “emergency and relief” items as designated by the Saudi-led coalition is not enough to sustain the needs of the Yemeni population. MSF insists on the need for a wider reopening of ports and airports for commercial purposes to prevent further suffering.

MSF faces growing administrative impediments to working in Yemen. Over the past six months, the administrative procedures for visas, travel authorisations and imports to Yemen have increased considerably. The rules required by different authorities change frequently and hamper our capacity to deliver aid.

More humanitarian assistance is urgently needed

Much more humanitarian assistance is needed in Yemen – the war is increasing the population’s needs; MSF and the other limited number of organisations on the ground can’t respond to them alone.

The collapse of the health system will continue without adequate and immediate support and could lead to a resurgence of cholera, the spread of other epidemics such as diphtheria and measles, as well as growing rate of malnutrition and growing difficulties to treat non-communicable diseases and dialysis patients.

The non-payment of civil servants’ salaries by the government since August 2016 remains a key issue especially in the health sector. Health facilities lack qualified staffs who often seek other income opportunities.

Disproportionate suffering

Civilians, medical personnel and health structures have been affected by warring parties in Yemen. MSF hospitals have been hit several times. All parties to the conflict must do all they can to reduce the disproportionate suffering of the people in Yemen: That means:

  • respecting International Humanitarian Law;
  • ensuring the protection of civilians and medical structures and personnel
  • allowing the wounded and sick unhindered access to healthcare. Health personnel don’t dare to work in hospitals; patients don't dare to come as they think hospitals are a target.

International aid actors, donor governments and all parties to the conflict must ensure that aid is delivered to those in need (via real activities on the ground with meaningful impact).