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: Marib District Profile
Yemen: Outlook for Dec 2020 - May 2021 (January update)
Yemen Risk Alert: US terrorist designation of Ansar Allah
Humanitarian Access Overview
Yemen: Food supply chain
Yemen: Understanding conflict and crisis in the Marib district
Yemen: Oil Spill
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?.
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
17/02/2021: A fuel standoff at Al Hodeidah port resumed in December, after regular fuel imports between October and November 2020. As of mid-February, there are 12 vessels on hold at Al Hodeidah port. This follows a similar dynamic to previous fuel crises in April and September 2019 and June 2020. The Yemen Petroleum Company (YPC) has activated an Emergency Plan to regulate official fuel sales. People are only permitted to purchase 20 litres per day per car from a limited number of official stations. On 17 February there were only 3 fuel stations operating in Sana’a city. Fuel prices on the black market are two or three times higher than the official price. Locally produced food and water prices are likely to increase significantly because of the increased cost of transport. Hospitals, public services, and businesses reliant on power generators are likely to face electricity shortages. Increased transport costs would also deter people from seeking healthcare, especially in remote areas. ?
12/02/2021: The latest IPC Acute Malnutrition Analysis estimated that over 2.25 million cases of children under 5 years old and more than a million cases of pregnant and lactating women are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021 in Yemen. The number of Governorates facing critical food insecurity (IPC 4 or above) increased from 8 to 15 from August-December 2020 to January-March 2021. The major drivers of acute malnutrition are the prevalence of communicable diseases and consumption of poor quality and quantity of food. Underlying factors include high levels of acute food insecurity, poor feeding practices and access to nutrition and health services, and poor WASH services. The zones with the highest numbers of GAM cases during 2021 are expected to be Al Hodeidah, Taiz, Sana’a city and Hajjah. ?
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
Foreign currency is of vital importance to the Yemeni economy, as the country imports around 90% of food and fuel requirements.? All main inflows of foreign currency in Yemen have been hit hard by the conflict, and by the global oil prices crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. Earnings from Yemen oil exports have halved because of the fall in global oil prices and interrupted exports. A Saudi deposit of US$2.2 billion in March 2018 to cover letters of credit 2 for staple food imports is nearly depleted and no additional funding has been confirmed. Humanitarian funding has been severely reduced and major aid programmes scaled down or suspended?; remittances have fallen largely as a result of the effect of COVID-19 on the earnings of Yemenis abroad. ? These all combine to reduce the total inflow of foreign currency.? The internal economic warfare enabled by a divided monetary system has driven a divergence of exchange rates – currently a 15% difference – in areas controlled by the two main parties to the conflict. The exchange rate has remained fairly stable in Ansar Allah territories at an average of 600 Yemeni Riyal (YER) to the USD since April 2020, while it spiraled from less than 700 YER to over 800 between April and October in areas under the internationally recognised Government of Yemen (IRG).? In mid-September the YER reached an all-time low. Importers are resorting to more expensive formal and informal sources to obtain foreign currency, as usual sources are shrinking. Increased demand for foreign currency will further weaken the YER in both systems. Currency speculation will also destabilise the exchange rate. Reduced foreign currency, increased economic warfare, and increased currency speculation will result in a continued depreciation of the YER, possibly reaching a record of 1,000 YER per 1 USD by the end of 2020 in IRG areas, leading to uncontrolled inflation.?
Food and basic commodity prices continue to increase, in line with the inflation of the YER and at different rates based on the difference in the exchange rate between the north and south.
In August, the average price of the monthly food basket stood at 39,375 YER – 30% higher than in August 2019 and surpassing the 2018 crisis level by 15%.? State and business salaries in the north mostly go unpaid, mainly because of economic warfare, and the severe liquidity shortage is worsened by the continued ban on new YER banknotes. In IRG-controlled areas, erratic payment of civil servant salaries could continue, financed by the issuance of additional YER banknotes that would drive further currency depreciation and inflation.?Reduced income and increased prices will reduce households’ purchasing power, pushing more people under the poverty line and unable to afford basic goods. The additional financial stress could increase the adoption of negative coping mechanisms including food rationing, child labour, child marriage, crime, illegal migration, and families sending their children to fighting fronts. Any significant deterioration of living conditions would lead to mass demonstrations that weaken the IRG’s credibility which, in turn, may lead to renewed conflict in the south, as either the Southern Transitional Council or Houthis seek to exploit this weakness. High inflation compounded by the funding shortfall will reduce humanitarian operations even more in a time of rising needs and high dependency on food aid.
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 14 February 2021, there have been 2,140 COVID-19 cases reported in the country, including 617 deaths. 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.