The Humanitarian Crisis

The world’s largest humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Yemen. Children there know of only sickness and death, war and starvation. The tragedy deserves our collective attention and requires our collective action.

UNICEF/Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin

Yemen’s disaster stems from a civil war that has been raging since 2014. At least 14,000 have been killed, over than 3 million have been displaced, and 17 million are food insecure.

Amid the calamity, 80 percent of Yemen’s population of 28 million now requires humanitarian assistance.

The most precious and vulnerable have suffered the most. Since March 2015, over 1,000 children have been killed and some 1,600 have been injured. Two million of them are “acutely malnourished and at grave risk of dying.”

What is altogether maddening is that Yemen’s catastrophe is entirely man made. An ongoing and indiscriminate air campaign in the civil war has decimated homes, schools, hospitals, markets and basic infrastructure.

As such, more than 55 percent of Yemen’s health facilities are closed or only partially functional, and some 15 million people do not have access to basic health care. Approximately 14.5 million do not have safe water and sanitation services.

These are the perfect conditions for disease to spread like wild fire, and a massive outbreak of cholera has emerged, resulting in more than 900,000 suspected cases and more than 2,000 related deaths since April.

While cholera is preventable and treatable, the people of Yemen are not receiving the aid they desperately need. The delivery of supplies and assistance from international relief organizations has been made difficult to impossible due to a callous blockade of Yemeni ports resulting from the civil war.

Meanwhile, precious children and innocent civilians continue to suffer. Yemen’s gruesome picture is painted with the dead, hungry and sick, and it is heartbreaking.