UNICEF Yemen Humanitarian Situation Report (December 2016)
With slow progress on a negotiated political solution to the conflict in Yemen, millions of children and their families will continue to suffer from the consequences of hostilities, interruption of public services, and ever more diminished livelihoods. The risk is that thousands of children will continue to face death from preventable causes.
Nearly 2.2 million Yemeni children are acutely malnourished and 462,000 suffer from severe acute malnutrition – almost a three-fold rise over 2014 levels.
Due to challenges in obtaining lines of credit, wheat importers will cease imports in the coming months. FAO estimates that since nearly 90 per cent of cereal supplies in Yemen are imported, food security and nutrition situation are expected to worsen in case such restrictions remain.
By the end of 2016, 14,121 suspected cases of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD)/cholera had been reported and 173 cases were confirmed as cholera in 15 governorates. Although fatality rate has decreased during the reporting period, awareness, response and prevention activities must scale up to prevent further spread of the disease.
Despite the extremely complex context, during 2016 UNICEF reached some of the most affected children and families in Yemen, including displaced communities. UNICEF supported over 5.2 million people with WASH services, nearly 1 million children with education supplies, provided treatment for more than 237,000 severe acutely malnourished children, supported immunization against polio of nearly 5 million children, reached more than half million children with psychosocial support and secured cash transfers for 84,600 people from the poorest families in the country.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
Twenty one months have passed since the conflict escalated in Yemen and the situation of millions of people is becoming more desperate. While the ongoing hostilities have left thousands of civilian casualties - including more than 3,600 children injured or killed1 - the impact of the conflict runs much deeper and will have long term consequences for the country’s human development. Despite persistent efforts to reach a political solution to the conflict, the UN-backed peace talks have yet to result in remain stalled since October 2016 without an agreement on the sequencing of the different steps provided for in the proposed roadmap to end the conflict.
Humanitarian needs continue to grow. The humanitarian community estimates that during 2017 at least 18.8 million people – 70 per cent of the total population - will need some kind of humanitarian assistance. More than half of the population in the country is food insecure and is lacking access to safe water, sanitation and health services.
The future of the country is at stake with some 3.3 million children, pregnant and lactating women acutely malnourished. This includes 462,000 children under five years of age facing Severe Acute malnutrition (SAM) who are at risk of suffering irreversible physical and cognitive consequences for their development.
The cholera and Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD) outbreak declared in October 2016 continued to spread in December posing an extra burden for the almost collapsed health and WAH systems. As of 31 December, 14,121 suspected cases had been reported, 173 cases and 97 associated deaths had been confirmed in 15 governorates. As a result of improved case management trough well trained staff, the case fatality rate has decreased when compared to previous months, nevertheless community awareness and prevention activities need to upscale.
In addition to the already complex economic and financial situation, wheat importers have indicated thatthey won’t be able to import wheat into Yemen in the coming months due to challenges obtaining lines of credit to pay for shipments, following the relocation of the Central Bank of Yemen (CBY) to Aden. Given that nearly 90 per cent of cereal supplies are imported, impediments to commercial imports will eventually impact the food security and nutrition situation.
In 2016, UNICEF and the humanitarian community have repeatedly called on the parties to the conflict to allow for safe and unrestricted humanitarian access into and within the country. Nevertheless, the humanitarian operation in Yemen –particularly the logistics to bring and distribute assistance – is extremely challenging and costly. In addition, commercial flights from Sana’a airport are banned since August 2016, this is highly concerning considering that it is estimated that before August nearly 30 per cent of passengers of commercial flights were medical evacuees. The only option for thousands is to travel to the southern city of Aden to board a flight from there, risking their lives going through active conflict areas.