Yemen – The forgotten crisis: Cuts in funding put millions of lives at risk

from Norwegian Refugee Council
Published on 27 Feb 2015

The ongoing conflict is worsening the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. At the same time, humanitarian organisations are experiencing cuts in funding from their largest donors. “Despite millions of lives at risk, donors are cutting funding at this critical time,” says Regional Director of Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Gabriella Waaijman.

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been one of the world’s most severe, even before the latest clashes.

“But this has largely been a forgotten crisis”, Waaijman says. “The ongoing political and military crisis in Yemen will negatively affect the already severe food security situation in the country.”

Today, over 10 million Yemenis are experiencing food shortages, including 850,000 acutely malnourished children. Yemen has the third highest malnutrition rate in the world.

Long-standing underdevelopment, poor governance, environmental stress, demographic pressure and continued political instability have exacerbated the population’s vulnerability.

On average, close to 16 million people in Yemen are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance this year.

“This is over 60 percent of the population”, Waaijman from Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) adds.

Displaced most vulnerable

Continued insecurity in most parts of the country has contributed not only to the displacement of people but also created hindrance to access of humanitarian assistance by those in desperate need. Some 335,000 Yemenis are internally displaced according to the UN.

Yemen is also a country receiving a large number of refugees from other countries. Last year the country received over 90,000 refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa, mostly from Ethiopia and Somalia. In total the country is hosting nearly 250,000 refugees from other countries. According to United Nation’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), over 1 Million refugees and migrants require humanitarian assistance in Yemen.

“Internally displaced people, refugees and migrants are among the most vulnerable people in Yemen, but the number affected by the humanitarian crisis goes far beyond these groups. With the impact of the current situation on the economy, many more people will lose their livelihoods”, says Gabriella Waaijman.

“The situation will easily move from bad to worse for many of the 16 million people in need”.

NRC is ready to stay, but needs support

As a consequence of the latest unrest, diplomatic missions are closing their doors in Yemen. In addition to the US, UK and France, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain have all suspended their embassies’ operations in the capital Sana`a and evacuated their staff.

“No UN Agencies or humanitarian organisations has evacuated their staff”, says Norwegian Refugee Council’s Gabriella Waaijman. “It is important to note that humanitarian organisations have largely been able to continue their operations”.

Norwegian Refugee Council has been present in Yemen since 2012, running programmes within shelter, water and sanitation, education and food security and livelihoods.

“Our focus is both on emergency support and on longer term resilience, as well as pursuing durable solutions for returnees. We prepare the best we can. We work with the populations to build resilience and increase food security. NRC is present on the ground and we are ready to stay and deliver, but need the support from the donor community to do so. If they pull out, it will be difficult”, Waaijman says.

Press contacts Telefon:

Tuva Raanes Bogsnes, head of media section + 47 932 31 883
Hanne Eide Andersen, media adviser + 47 995 62 948


  • People in need of humanitarian aid: 15.9 m
  • Food insecure people: 10.6 m
  • People without access to safe water and sanitation: 13.4 m
  • People without access to adequate health care: 8.4 m
  • Acutely malnourished children: 840,000

Norwegian Refugee Council in Yemen

  • Norwegian Refugee Council is a Norwegian, humanitarian organisation.
  • NRC is currently implementing 15 projects focusing on shelter, water and sanitation, education and food security and livelihoods.
  • More info:


  • Construction of temporary/transitional shelters, rehabilitation of damaged shelters and provision of other emergency materials.
  • Improving access to safe water as well as increased awareness of good hygiene practices through the construction/rehabilitation of water systems, construction of latrines, and carrying out of hygiene promotion campaigns including the proper disposal of waste. Distribution of sanitation kits.
  • Equip internally displaced, returnees and host community youth with necessary vocational skills, life skills, and literacy and numeracy training under the Youth Education Pack (YEP) programme.
  • Supporting displacement affected communities to attain resilience by providing cash transfers and supporting farm and non-farm based livelihood training.
  • Awareness raising and capacity building of communities and local government authorities on risks, vulnerabilities and the resources is also undertaken to improve community coping strategies.
  • Given the nature of chronic poverty, food insecurity, and the added burden of complex conflict, NRC in Yemen is seeking to prioritise a resilience-building approach to programming in order to promote durable solutions.