UNICEF Yemen Humanitarian Situation Report (December 2017) [EN/AR]

Situation Report
Originally published



  • A partial blockade of Yemen’s ports continued for much of December, limiting the import of much needed commercial and humanitarian supplies.

  • On 20 December, the Saudi-led coalition announced a 30-day window to allow food and fuel into the country via all ports including Al Hudaydah.

  • Tensions in Sana’a rose significantly following the death of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh on 4 December. The ensuing military clashes across the capital and ongoing insecurity have created widespread instability across the north of the country, and UNICEF’s Monitoring Response Mechanism reported 259 children (178 boys and 81 girls) killed or injured.

  • The total supply value exceeded USD 336 million in 2017, enabling UNICEF to reach 9.1 million people with water treatment, vaccinate 4.8 million children and distribute 119,000 school bags.

  • In April 2017 Yemen was hit by a large AWD/cholera outbreak which escalated rapidly and at its peak there were over 50,000 new cases per week. As of 31 December, there were more than a million suspected cases, with 2,237 associated deaths. Following the UNICEF response together with implementing partners, the situation improved towards the end of the year and now the number of new cases has been declining.

  • 2,364,978 children aged 6 to 59 months were screened for acute malnutrition this year through routine nutrition services while 226,557 were treated for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in fixed Outpatient Therapeutic Programme (OTP) sites and by mobile teams.

  • 1,669 schools have been either partially or totally destroyed and the number of out-of-school children (OOSC) has reached over 2 million.

December 2017

11.3 million # of children in need of humanitarian assistance (estimated)

20.7 million # of people in need (Periodic Monitoring Review HCT, Apr 2017)

1.6 million # of children internally displaced (IDPs) and returnees

2.9 million # of IDPs and returnees (Task Force on Population Movement 16th report,
Protection Cluster, October 2017)

385,000 children under 5 suffering Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM)

15.7 million People in need of WASH assistance

14.8 million People in need of basic health care

UNICEF Appeal 2017 US$ 339 million

Funding Status US$ 245.2 million

UNICEF’s Response with Partners

Yemen was one of the worst places in the world to be a child in 2017. The conflict has led to the internal displacement of more than 2 million people, left 1.25 million public sector workers without pay for a year, and undermined access to ports and airports, obstructing essential humanitarian and commercial deliveries. 16 million people lack access to safe water; more than 1.8 million children (400,000 of whom under 5) and 1 million pregnant and lactating women suffer from acute malnutrition, and an estimated 385,000 children with severe acute malnutrition; nearly 2 million children are out of school. The country is on the verge of famine, and almost the entire population—22.2 million people—requires humanitarian assistance. The lack of livelihood opportunities has led to desperate coping mechanisms, including increased household borrowing and rising rates of child marriage and recruitment of children into armed groups and forces. In April this year, outbreaks of acute watery diarrhea (AWD) and cholera—exacerbated by the collapse of public systems—have reached over a million suspected cases.

Recent escalation of tension in Sana’a following the death of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and the ensuing military clashes across the capital and ongoing insecurity have created widespread instability across the north of the country, with a sharp rise in child deaths and injuries of 259 children (178 boys and 81 girls) in December alone. Ambulances and medical teams were often unable to reach casualties due to ongoing clashes, with reports of medical teams coming under attack. Most of the city shut down, including many shops, public transport, water treatment plants, hospitals and health facilities. The shutdown also affected humanitarian organisations, many of which have their main warehouses in Sana’a.

This increased instability, together with the ongoing partial blockade of commercial shipments to Al Hudaydah and Saleef ports since November, has deepened the humanitarian crisis in Yemen in December, with households increasingly unable to afford even the most basic goods and services. The immediate impact of the blockade was seen immediately in reduced food consumption and rising prices for basic commodities, with fuel prices doubling (threatening health facilities), wheat prices rising by 30 percent, and trucked water necessary in areas where water supply systems have been damaged. Partial access restrictions and conflict around the port city of Al Hudaydah meant that insufficient supplies – both commercial and humanitarian – reached the country.

The AWD/suspected cholera outbreak - continues to spread, albeit with a slowing rate in December. Suspected cases have been reported across 22 of 23 governorates and 92% of districts are affected. The cumulative total caseload as of 31 December, reached the total number of 1,019,044 cases, with 2,237 associated deaths. 59 per cent of deaths were identified as severe at the time of admission.
Children under the age of five (U5) represent a growing proportion of new cases, with more than 29 per cent of all suspected cases (compared with 18 per cent of the caseload by the end of June). Children aged 5-17 represent a further 29 per cent of all cases.

The recent diphtheria outbreak also continues to be cause for concern, and as of 24 December there were 381 suspected cases, with 38 associated deaths. The outbreak has been identified across 18 governorates, with the vast majority of suspected cases in Ibb (211 cases), Al Hudaydah (38), Aden (29) and Dhamar (19). Yemen is not the only country experiencing a diphtheria outbreak, leading to difficulties securing sufficient quantities of Pentavalent and typhoid/diphtheria vaccine. This outbreak is affecting children disproportionately: 26 per cent of all deaths have been children u5, 37 % have been children from 5 to 9 years, and 26 % of deaths were children aged 10 to 14.

Yemen’s nutrition situation continues to be negatively impacted by the conflict and decades of underdevelopment, despite enhanced efforts by partners. Five governorates have Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates above 15%, and seven governorates have GAM rates of 10-15% with aggravating factors, thus classifying 12 of 22 governorates as emergency. An estimated 7.5 million people are in need of nutrition assistance, with 2.9 million people who required treatment for acute malnutrition in 2017, including 1.8 million children under the age of 5 and 1.1 million pregnant and lactating women (PLW). 2.3 million PLW and caretakers of children 0-23 months will require infant and young child feeding counselling.

Meanwhile, ongoing conflict and instability, ensuing economic decline and breakdown of basic infrastructure and services has continued to push families to seek desperate measures in order to survive, with substantial impacts on the protection of children, particularly with rising rates of child marriage and recruitment of children. Overall in 2017, the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTF MR) verified 1,300 grave child rights violation incidents - and nearly 1,000 children were killed and maimed.

Additionally, school infrastructure has been severely damaged and 1,669 schools (of a total of 16,000) have either been partially or totally destroyed, 150 schools are occupied by IDPs, and 23 are occupied by armed groups. The number of out-of-school children (OOSC) aged 6-14 estimated at 1.6 million prior to the conflict is now assessed to have reached 2 million as war and resulting displacement in Yemen has led to full or partial closure of nearly 2,000 schools. Those schools that are still open, are not really functional. Most teachers have moved far from their schools, increasing absenteeism, further exacerbated by fact that many have not received their full salaries since October 2016. This situation is putting at risk the education of 4.5 million children.

Throughout 2017, ongoing challenges in Yemen included navigating political divisions and the existence of two authorities (de facto in Sana'a and internationally recognized government in Aden). Organisations lack access to some areas in need, resulting in interventions such as community-led total sanitation (CLTS) being suspended and under-achieved. The latest developments involving the assassination of former President Saleh and sporadic blockading of ports indicate that the situation may very well get worse before it gets better. Such access issues threaten to further reduce the capacity of public service systems to continue, reliant as they are on imports of fuel and supplies.

Alongside the devaluation of the Yemeni Riyal and rising inflation, public sector salaries have not been paid (or paid only partially, and primarily in the South) to more than 1.25 million civil servants since August 2016. This threatens the ongoing provision of critical lifesaving public health, sanitation and education services.