Sana’a, 19 August 2021 – Across the world, the climate emergency is wreaking havoc at a scale beyond what the humanitarian community and the people on the frontlines of the emergency can manage. Millions of people are already losing their homes, their livelihoods and their lives as a result of the climate emergency, with those who have contributed the least to the crisis often the most severely impacted. Globally, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) estimates that following climate-related disasters, the number of people in humanitarian need could double to over 200 million by 2050, and humanitarian funding needs could increase to US$20 billion annually by 2030. While the climate is changing everywhere, it is the people living in fragile circumstances who feel the effects most harshly.
In Yemen, vulnerability to natural hazards, floods and droughts have led to the destruction of shelters and infrastructure, restricted access to markets and basic services, wrecked livelihoods, facilitated the spread of deadly diseases and caused fatalities, as well as contributed to population displacement in what is already the world’s fourth biggest internal displacement crisis, with over 4 million internally displaced people. The annual rainy season brings heavy rainfalls, high winds and flooding, particularly to coastal areas. In 2020, at least 13 governorates were impacted by adverse weather, affecting over 62,500 families, while thousands more families have already been impacted in 2021. By blocking passage of roads, flooding also continues to impede the ability of humanitarian partners to deliver lifesaving assistance to people in need.
Driven by conflict and economic collapse, some 5 million people in Yemen are on the brink of famine as the country grapples with increasing food insecurity, rising malnutrition and associated mortality as well as other long-term, irreversible effects on child growth and development. Already, more than 2.25 million children aged below 5 years and over a million pregnant and breastfeeding women are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition this year. With water sources slowly depleting and desertification brought on by agricultural pressures, the already frail food security situation is further threatened by recurrent drought and climate change, which are negatively impacting the availability of arable land and access to safe drinking water.
“This World Humanitarian Day, we add our voices to those of our colleagues around the world to emphasize that the climate crisis is a humanitarian crisis,” said David Gressly, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen. “Urgent action must be taken to meaningfully address climate change, and to reduce the human and environmental cost of the climate crisis. Otherwise, it is the most vulnerable among us who will once again bear the greatest cost.”
Yemen has been recognized as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis for the past half a decade. Over six years of war, economic collapse and surging public health risks have resulted in more than 20 million people needing humanitarian assistance and protection this year, including 12.1 million people in acute need. The 2021 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan, which seeks $3.85 billion to provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance and protection to 16.2 million people in need, is less than 50 per cent funded.