Yemen: A Six-Year Emergency

The Crisis Through the Eyes of One Family in Rural Lahij

What started as mass-protests against high fuel prices in 2015 is today the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Six years of brutal conflict—made worse by pre-existing humanitarian needs caused by devastating flooding in 2010, as well as extreme poverty—has decimated Yemen and its people. More than 24 million men, women and children—80 percent of the population—relies on humanitarian aid to survive, while 18 million people don’t have access to clean water and malnutrition rates are among the highest in the world.

The situation is particularly difficult for the country’s 3.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). The family profiled below, like many other IDPs, had to flee their home because of conflict, settling in Lahij, a province in southwestern Yemen. In January, our Mobile Medical and Nutrition Team visited the family, following up on a report from one of International Medical Corps’ community health volunteers about a sick child. Their story is below.

This, and other assistance we provide in Yemen, is made possible thanks to generous funding from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

Many IDPs have fled to Lahij and settled in rural areas like this small village. The majority of these civilians have fled deadly airstrikes in Al Dhalee or Taizz, two neighboring provinces ablaze in conflict.
Despite having traveled by foot, bringing only what they could carry, many IDPs in Lahij have been able to build something resembling homes, which make up informal settlements like this one. Essentials like electricity and clean water are considered a luxury. Roads are bad, the majority of people have no means of transportation—and the nearest health clinic is more than six miles away.
Wadhah Abdo Saleh, International Medical Corps’ Medical Assistant, examines a young girl in the family home.
Child malnutrition is at an all-time high in Yemen. The United Nations estimates that 2 million children are malnourished and that the situation is life-threatening for an additional 368,000.
The child is underweight and at risk, but our team got to her in time—putting a program into place that includes nutrition treatment and weight monitoring.
Estimates from 2018 said that a child died every 10 minutes in Yemen—usually not from the war itself but from preventable causes, such as disease and malnutrition. International Medical Corps has been helping Yemeni families like this one since 2012. In 2015, when the war broke out, we scaled up our assistance to include emergency programs that provide healthcare and related services in communities where the healthcare system is in a state of near collapse.

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