Crisis Severity The severity score from 1 to 5 is based on 31 indicators aggregated into 3 pillars (impact, conditions, and complexity)4.60 Very lowVery high 5
Impact This measures the impact of the crisis itself, in terms of the scope of its geographical, and human effects.4.90 Very lowVery high 5
Humanitarian Conditions This measures the conditions and status of the people affected, including info about the distribution of severity.4.50 Very lowVery high 5
Complexity This measures the complexity of the crisis, in terms of factors that affect its mitigation or resolution.4.50 Very lowVery high 5
Access Constraints This measures the level of humanitarian access constraints.5.0No constraintsExtreme constraints
Yemen: CrisisInSight Developments in 2020 & Outlook into 2021
Yemen: Outlook for Dec 2020 - May 2021 (March update)
Yemen: Impact review from December 2019 - December 2020
Yemen: FSO Safer impact assessment April-June 2021
Yemen: Outlook for Dec 2020 - May 2021 (February update)
Yemen: Marib District Profile
Yemen Risk Alert: US terrorist designation of Ansar Allah
Humanitarian Access Overview
Yemen: Food supply chain
Yemen Scenarios: Access to basic needs
Yemen: The Houthi Supervisory System
Ongoing conflict between the internationally recognised Government of Yemen (GoY) and Ansar Allah (Houthi) escalated in 2015. Following the Houthi takeover of the capital, Sana’a, the Saudi-led coalition intervened militarily in support of the government. Since then, the conflict has resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis with over 18,557 civilian casualties reported between March 2015 and November 2020, up to 4.3 million people displaced, severe access constraints, and economic downturn leaving more than 24.3 million people (80% of the population) in need of humanitarian assistance?.
Yemen was historically divided by different political, tribal, ethnic, and religious identities. Current conflict further fragmented Yemen into three main areas of control. As of December 2020, the Houthis control the majority of northern and central governorates, the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) controls part of southern Yemen (mainly Aden and Socotra), and the GoY controls the remainder of southern and eastern governorates ?.
Active conflict between the Houthis and the GoY in 2020 intensified in some areas opening seven new frontlines along the borders of Ma’rib, Sana’a and Al Jawf governorates. In Al Hodeidah, Ad Dali, Al Bayda, Sadah and Taiz governorates, conflict remains intermittent with no major changes since the Stockholm agreement was signed in December 2018?.Talks to implement the Riyadh agreement, signed in November 2019 between the GoY and the STC, resumed on July 2020 after tensions has raised between the two parties in Abyan in May 2020. The negotiations suffered multiple setbacks but reached an agreement including the formation of a new Cabinet on 18 December 2020?.
The war has added to problems of chronic poverty, weak governance, water scarcity, and systemic discrimination. People’s livelihoods and resources have depleted while prices of basic commodities have more than doubled, reducing purchasing power. In 2021, 16.2 million people in Yemen are expected to face high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above). Economic warfare between the GoY and the Houthis has also led to fuel and basic commodity shortages?. Yemenis have also suffered outbreaks of diseases including COVID-19, cholera, diphtheria, and dengue fever. An estimated 17.9 million people lack adequate healthcare and only 50% of health facilities remain fully functional?.
14/04/2021: Health facilities in Yemen have recorded a significant influx of people infected with COVID-19, with total cases in March numbering more than double the total of previously reported cases since the outbreak began. Most patients arrive in critical condition, likely because of fear or due to scarce resources to access healthcare. The beginning of the rainy season in April-May and associated disease outbreaks will likely put more pressure on the health system, with potential flooding further reducing humanitarian access. Displacement will likely affect access to services and facilitate COVID-19 spread. International support is needed to increase healthcare capacity and provide medical supplies including ventilators, oxygen machines, and general PPE. On 22 March the internationally recognised government’s emergency committee issued instructions to close halls, clubs, and wedding venues, while mosques remain open for prayer times. Official Yemen case numbers are unreliable as the de-facto authority in the north has not reported any cases for almost a year. ?
01/03/2021: The intense clashes in Marib governorate have displaced at least 8,000 people since 8 February within Sirwah district and towards Marib Al Wadi and Marib City. Most of the population affected by the hostilities were already displaced and sheltering in IDPs hosting sites. Further conflict risks pushing people towards Marib city where IDP sites are already crowded and response capacity overwhelmed, or towards Hadramout where access is limited and resources scarce. Shelter, food, NFIs, WASH and protection are the main reported needs. ?
Read more about Yemen: Marib districts profiles here
Access continues to be extremely challenging in Yemen due to conflict and insecurity, bureaucratic impediments and COVID-19 restrictions. Although some progress was made since the end of 2019, the number of people in need living in hard-to-reach areas increased from 5 million in April 2019 to 19 million in August 2020, with most living in northern governorates. In early 2020, new frontlines were established around Marib and Al Jawf governorates affecting access. Persistent fighting across the country and lack of safety assurances led to the suspension or re-location of programmes, withdrawal of humanitarian personnel in areas closest to the clashes, and blocked movement of humanitarian cargo. Authorities in the north have imposed severe constraints on humanitarians seeking to gather data for program planning and monitoring. Humanitarians in the south need to negotiate access via multiple local actors. Many humanitarian needs assessments and monitoring activities are based on remote data collection. COVID-19 affected movement between April and June and increased the cost and complexity of humanitarian operations.
Conflict across the country continues to disrupt people’s access to markets and services and cause difficulties for humanitarians delivering assistance. Fuel and gas shortages - largely due to competition by parties to the conflict to control markets - disrupt electricity, water, sanitation and health services and raise the cost of basic goods. Access is likely to further decrease if the conflict escalates across the country.
Read more in the latest ACAPS Humanitarian Access Overview
Update from the Octobre 2020 Global Risk Analysis
Continued depreciation of the Yemeni riyal drives up inflation, reducing households’ purchasing power and their ability to meet basic needs
The risk of inflation being driven up by the continued depreciation of the Yemeni riyal, as identified in October’s Global Risk Analysis, remains high. This is mostly a result of the depletion of foreign currency reserves and the likely continuation of competing economic regulations between the Government of Yemen (GoY) and Ansar Allah-controlled areas.
Since January 2021, the riyal in GoY-controlled areas has resumed a steady depreciation, following a temporary appreciation in December 2020 related to the announcement of a new cabinet and the release of funds from the Saudi deposit to cover letters of credit for the import of basic commodities. The value of the riyal in December 2020 increased to YER 640 per 1 USD; it then started to depreciate again up to YER 860 per 1 USD in January 2021, from an average of YER 778 per 1 USD throughout 2020. The value of the riyal in Ansar Allah-controlled areas remained stable at around YER 595 per 1 USD in January 2021, in line with the average in 2020.
The bilateral support by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the GoY - which contributes to the stability of the riyal in Yemen - is likely to be affected by a UN Panel of Experts’ report highlighting a lack of transparency, allegations of corruption, and misuse of the Saudi deposit by the Central Bank of Yemen (CBY) in Aden (UNSC 25/01/2021). This could also push the GoY towards significant reforms within CBY Aden, aimed at improving transparency and possibly encouraging foreign financial support, which could potentially contribute to currency stability. If the current situation continues however, dwindling foreign currency reserves will continue to drive inflation up, affecting people’s ability to afford food and other basic commodities. The escalation of conflict since the beginning of February in Marib - the main source of oil and liquefied gas in Yemen - could significantly disrupt oil and gas facilities and extraction operations, affecting GoY revenues and currency stability.
Read the latest October Risk Analysis here.
Yemen Economy Tracking Initiative
Since the recent conflict in 2015, food prices have doubled and the cost of basic living, measured by the Survival Minimum Expenditure basket has increased fourfold. As a result, over 24 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance.
This Yemen Economic Tracking Initiative (YETI) aims to provide a platform to track key economic trends, developments, and risks to support economic policymaking for Yemen.
This new platform brings together data from a range of sources to provide a greater overall and comparative understanding of the current political-economic situation in Yemen.
As of 19 April 2021, there have been 5,774 COVID-19 cases reported in the country, including 1,120 deaths. Cases have been increasing again since mid-February. The most affected governorates are Hadramawt, Taiz and Aden. However, the higher numbers in Hadramawt are likely due to better testing and reporting in that governorate. Houthi authorities have officially reported only four cases, including one death, in Sana'a city and have not reported any case since May 2020. Actual case numbers are likely several hundred times higher. The number of cases both in the north and the south of Yemen are largely under-reported due to limited testing facilities, difficulties in accessing health care and the risks of seeking treatment ?.
The weekly number of new cases dropped to 19 in October 2020, compared to 230 cases in August, and has continued dropping in December 2020, with an average of 2 to 5 cases reported per week. Men constitute 74% of all reported cases. Women may not be seeking medical care and instead treating themselves at home. Deaths are reported mainly among people aged 60 and above ?.
Preventative measures, like curfews and health screening, in different transit points used for public movements between southern and northern governorates have been loosened since July 2020. On 28 September 2020, Sana’a International Airport reopened for humanitarian flights. Additionally 15 sea border points and three land border points reopened for movement.
COVID-19 emerged as a new driver of displacement in the south between March and July peaking in May and June. Over 1,600 households (9,500 individuals) were displaced ?.
The COVID-19 response risks placing additional pressure on Yemen’s healthcare system, which is operating at roughly 50% of its pre-conflict capacity. Oxygen and personal protective equipment would quickly become scarce in the case of a second wave. It is likely that the impact of COVID-19 will result in further deterioration of public systems and exacerbate negative outcomes related to food insecurity, water and sanitation, and public health, especially for those living in displacement sites ?.
To find out more read ACAPS Risk report and State narratives, social perceptions and health behaviours report
WASH: Yemen is one of the most water scarce countries in the world. Around 18 million people lack access to safe water and sanitation. Access to water has been further diminished by the impact of over five years of conflict leaving 20 million people in need of WASH assistance. The lack of water contributes to a high prevalence of preventable diseases. IDPs, especially living in informal settlements have limited access to clean water and sanitation ?.
Food security: Conflict and economic decline are the main drivers of food insecurity in Yemen. Since the conflict started in 2015 livelihoods have been disrupted, reducing income opportunities and the ability to purchase food. Food insecurity is most severe in areas with active fighting and is particularly affecting IDPs, marginalized groups, fishing communities and landless wage laborers ?. Projections for January - June 2021 estimate that the number of food insecure people will reach 16.2 million, including 11 million in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis), 5 million in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency) and 47,000 in IPC Phase 5 (Catastrophe). Estimations suggest that in 2021 there will be 300,000 people more facing acute food insecurity compared to late 2018, with a slight decrease in the number of people in IPC Phase 5 ?.
Health: Access to healthcare is severely limited, with only 50% of health facilities fully functional leaving almost 20 million people without adequate access. Lack of salaries for heath personnel, damage to health facilities and difficulty importing medicines and medical supplies are all accelerating the decline of the already deteriorated public health services. Private-sector health services exist but remain out of reach for millions of vulnerable people due to high prices ?. The first case of COVID-19 in Yemen was recorded on 10 April from Hadramout. See COVID-19 box for more information.
Yemen Analysis Hub
The ACAPS Yemen Analysis Hub provides inter-sectoral, forward-looking analysis to support a stronger evidence base for humanitarian decision making in Yemen. Learn more about the Yemen Analysis Hub.
If you are interested in the reports produced by the hub, please subscribe to the ACAPS Yemen mailing list.
Information Gaps and Needs
More granular information is required to better understand the causes and level of needs.
More research on specific needs of vulnerable and marginalised groups is needed to understand the severity of needs and coping mechanisms between different communities.
Yemen is prone to disasters. Flash flooding, and cyclones cause displacement, severe infrastructure damage, casualties, and the spread of multiple diseases each season. Seasonal rain in Yemen lasts from March to October and the threat of flooding is high in western and coastal areas.
Since January 2020, more than 500,000 people have been affected by floods and heavy rains, including 300,000 in June, July and August, mostly in Marib, Taiz, Al Hodeidah, Hajjah, Lahj and Aden governorates. IDPs living in informal settlements were most affected. Many lost homes, crops, food and personal belongings. Outbreaks of diseases including dengue and cholera have severely impacted most vulnerable groups?.
The beginning of conflict in 2015 led to economic warfare between the GoY and the Houthis. The Yemeni Riyal (YER) has lost value against the US dollar (USD), negatively impacting prices and purchasing power. Reduced direct foreign investment, and a drop in remittances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to a liquidity crisis and depreciation of the riyal to unprecedented levels. There is a direct correlation between currency depreciation and price inflation as Yemen imports 90% of its staple food. Households struggle to pay for food, transportation, electricity, and water due to price rises.
Since 2018, the Houthis and the GoY have implemented divergent monetary policies. Both sides have their own set of economic and political levers. These divergent economic policies have destablised the YER and created two separate economies in Yemen. The competing policies have resulted in reduced liquidity in the North and an excess of newly printed bank notes in the South, two different exchange rates, further monetary and fiscal instability and higher operating costs for traders and humanitarian operations.