• Peace talks between warring parties in Yemen continue in Kuwait. The agreed cessation of hostilities appeared to result in a reduction in the number of events, but hostilities were still reported on several governorates affecting supply transportation and resulting in civilian casualties particularly in Aden and Taiz.
• A sudden devaluation of the local currency caused dramatic increases in price of food and commodities. Should this trend continue, millions of Yemenis will face an even greater risk of food insecurity and further deterioration of their humanitarian situation.
• UNICEF supported the launching of a five-day Integrated Outreach Activity (IOA) targeting 9,958 hard-to-reach and underserved communities in all 333 districts of Yemen. Activities included immunization, treatment of childhood illnesses, antenatal care and reproductive health services.
• UNICEF is currently working with the Ministry of Education to support the National Exams for grades 9 and 12, allowing over 635,000 children to sit for exams.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
During May 2016, peace talks between parties to the conflict in Yemen continued in Kuwait. “Progress is being achieved, albeit at a relatively slow pace,” said the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. The cessation of hostilities agreed in April remains in place, resulting in a decrease in the number and intensity of actions. However, incidents were reported with several civilian victims.
Despite improvements in the security situation, humanitarian access remains challenging. Changes in procedures and bureaucratic hurdles resulted in the suspension or delay of field missions. Nevertheless, through its partners, UNICEF continues to operate across the country.
During the second half of May, a sudden devaluation of the Yemeni Riyal was recorded, causing a decline in resources and liquidity and increases of food and commodity prices. In addition, declines in fuel and basic food imports were reported for several governorates, showing the lowest levels since October 2015.1 If this trend continues, there could be devastating economic consequences for the most vulnerable households who are already facing increasing poverty levels and risk of food insecurity and malnutrition. This issue was also addressed by the UN Special Envoy for Yemen who proposed to the parties the creation of an “Economic Task Force” to take the necessary measures to save the economy, and called on the international community to support the Social Welfare Fund (SWF). Given the suspension of SWF activities in 2015, UNICEF launched an unconditional humanitarian cash transfer programme reaching the most vulnerable households. Plans are already underway to expand this programme and to support the SWF.
Heavy rains caused major damages in southern and western governorates. Landslides in Taiz left at least 20 people dead and more injured, bridges and roads were destroyed in Al Mahwit and Hodeidah, and at least two schools were swept away in Hajja, leaving 240 students out of school. Meanwhile, the start of the summer season is expected to increase substantially the demand for electricity, fuel and water supply, surpassing current capacities for service delivery..
After a recent visit to Yemen, John Ging, Director of Operations in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, drew urgent attention to the humanitarian situation in Yemen and called on the donor community for an urgent increase of attention and support to the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan, which requires US$1.8 billion to reach over 13 million people. More than 21.1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Yemen as a consequence of the sustained conflict, including nearly 10 million children.