Yemen: Humanitarian Response Plan January-December 2017

THE HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE PLAN AT A GLANCE

STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 1
Save lives, prioritizing the most vulnerable

STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 2
Integrate protection and gender-related concerns across the response

STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 3
Support maintenance of basic services and institutions

STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 4
Strengthen coordination, accountability and advocacy

IMPACT OF THE CRISIS

Almost two years of war have devastated Yemen, leaving 18.8 million people in need of humanitarian and protection assistance – including 10.3 million who are in acute need. The conflict is rapidly pushing the country towards social, economic and institutional collapse.

Conflict and chronic vulnerabilities

Even before the current conflict escalated in mid-March 2015, Yemen faced enormous levels of humanitarian needs stemming from years of poverty, under-development, environmental decline, intermittent conflict, and weak rule of law. Nearly two years of war have exacerbated these chronic vulnerabilities, leaving an estimated 18.8 million people in need of humanitarian or protection assistance – a nearly 20 per cent increase since late 2014. This includes 10.3 million people in acute need who urgently require immediate, lifesaving assistance in at least one sector. This chapter briefly summarizes the overall impact of the crisis. More details and sector-specific needs analyses appear in the 2017 Yemen Humanitarian Needs Overview.

Protection of civilians

The conduct of hostilities has been brutal. As of 31 December 2016, health facilities had reported nearly 48,000 casualties (including nearly 7,500 deaths) as a result of the conflict. These figures significantly undercount the true extent of casualties given diminished reporting capacity of health facilities and people’s difficulties accessing healthcare. Serious concerns have been raised regarding the conduct of the conflict, in which all parties appear to have committed violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Ongoing air strikes and fighting continue to inflict heavy casualties, damage public and private infrastructure, and impede delivery of humanitarian assistance. After nearly two years of war, parties to the conflict and their supporters have created a vast protection crisis in which millions of people face tremendous threats to their safety and well-being, and the most vulnerable struggle to survive.

Forced displacement and returns

Since March 2015, more than 3 million people have been displaced within Yemen, including 2 million who remained displaced as of January 2017. About half of the current internally displaced persons (IDPs) are sheltering in Hajjah, Taizz and Sana’a. Roughly 73 per cent are living with host families, or in rented accommodation, straining already scarce resources and 20 per cent are living in collective centres or spontaneous settlements. Displacement estimates have remained fairly stable in the last year, ranging between 2 million and 2.8 million people, and almost 90 per cent of IDPs have been displaced for more than 10 months.

Just over 1 million former IDPs have provisionally returned to their areas of origin, although the sustainability of these returns remains highly precarious. With periods of displacement growing longer, many IDPs have exhausted all resources and face conditions in displacement that leave them no alternative than to return. Nearly 70 per cent of returnees are in Aden, Sana’a or Taizz. Substantial numbers of returnees are living in damaged houses, are unable to afford repairs and face serious protection risks.

Economic decline, commodity shortages and rising prices

The Yemeni economy is being wilfully destroyed. Preliminary results of the Disaster Needs Assessment estimated $19 billion in infrastructure damage and other losses – equivalent to about half of GDP in 2013. Parties to the conflict have targeted key economic infrastructure. Mainly air strikes – but also shelling and other attacks – have damaged or destroyed ports, roads, bridges, factories and markets. They have also imposed restrictions that disrupt the flow of private sector goods and humanitarian aid, including food and medicine (see below). For months, nearly all basic commodities have been only sporadically available in most locations, and basic commodity prices in December 2016 were on average 22 per cent higher than before the crisis.

At the same time, Yemen is experiencing a liquidity crisis in which people, traders and humanitarian partners struggle to transfer cash into and within the country. Lenders have become increasingly reluctant to supply credit to Yemeni traders seeking to import essential goods. The end result is an economic environment in which basic commodities are becoming scarcer and more expensive just as people’s livelihoods opportunities and access to cash are receding or disappearing altogether. Humanitarian partners face growing pressure to compensate for the entire commercial sector, which is beyond both their capacity and appropriate role.

Collapse of basic services and institutions

Essential basic services and the institutions that provide them are collapsing due to conflict, displacement and economic decline. Yemeni authorities report that Central Bank foreign exchange reserves dropped from $4.7 billion in late 2014 to less than $1 billion in September 2016, and the public budget deficit has grown by more than 50 per cent to $2.2 billion. Salaries for health facility staff, teachers and other public sector workers are paid erratically, often leaving 1.25 million state employees and their 6.9 million dependents – nearly 30 per cent of the population – without a regular income at a time of shortages and rising prices.

As a result, social services provided by public institutions are collapsing while needs are surging. In August 2016, the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MOPHP) in Sana’a announced it could no longer cover operational costs for health services, and by October, only 45 per cent of health facilities in the country were fully functional. Absenteeism among key staff – doctors, nutrition counsellors, teachers – is reportedly rising as employees seek alternatives to provide for their families. On top of pressure to compensate for a faltering commercial sector, humanitarian partners are increasingly fielding calls to fill gaps created by collapsing public institutions.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.