In March 2015, a prolonged political crisis between Yemeni government forces, their allies, and rebel groups erupted into a nationwide humanitarian crisis.  The conflict has led to the collapse of the economy and social services. Millions of Yemenis are hungry, sick and vulnerable. Yemen has now become the world's worst humanitarian crisis. 

Today, an estimated 24 million people – over 80 per cent of the population – are in need of some kind of assistance, including 14.4 million who are in acute need –nearly two million people more than in 2018. 

Women's health 

An estimated six million women and girls of childbearing age (15 to 49 years) are in need of support. Rising food shortages have left more than one million pregnant and lactating women malnourished, who risk giving birth to newborns with severe stunted growth. In addition, an estimated 144,000 women are likely to develop childbirth complications.

Nearly half of the health facilities are not functioning or only partially functioning. Only one-third of the functioning health facilities provide reproductive health services due to staff shortages, lack of supplies, inability to meet operational costs or damaged due to conflict.  Equipment and medical supplies are inadequate or obsolete. Health workers not having been paid or only irregularly paid for more than two years has left Yemen with only 10 health workers per 10,000 people– less than half the WHO minimum benchmark.

In a country with one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the Arab region, the lack of food, poor nutrition and the eroding healthcare, worsened by epidemics such as cholera and diphtheria, can mean an increase in premature or low-birth weight babies and severe postpartum bleeding.

As a result of the precarious security situation and the difficulty of access across the country, reproductive health personnel, commodities and services in health facilities have become much more scarce and difficult for women and girls to reach.

Women's protection 

As many as 4.3 million people have been displaced in the last three years, while some 3.3 million people remain displaced. About half of the displaced are women, 27 per cent of whom are below age 18.  Their coping mechanisms are stretched to the limit and they are paying the heaviest price, as is so often the case in humanitarian crises.

With limited shelter options, displaced women and girls tend to suffer most from lack of privacy, threats to safety and limited access to basic services, making them ever more vulnerable to violence and abuse.  Displaced girls are more likely to lose access to schooling as families with limited resources de-prioritize their right to education.

Conflict-related loss of male breadwinners in Yemeni families adds to the economic burdens women face, especially in the case of female-headed households, 21 per cent of which are headed by females under the age of 18. The pressure is even more severe where women or girls suddenly find themselves responsible for providing for their families when they themselves have been deprived of basic education or vocational training that would equip them for the labour market. In the absence of adequate empowerment and support, women and girls readily become vulnerable to negative coping strategies such as child marriage and child labour.

UNFPA's response 

In response to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, UNFPA has been striving to meet the urgent health needs of women and girls, with a focus on reproductive health and protection services to women and girls who face multiple forms of violence, working in close partnership with local authorities, non-governmental partners and UN agencies across the country. UNFPA is the sole provider of lifesaving reproductive health supplies and medicines in Yemen. This reproductive health supply chain serves as a lifeline to the millions of women and girls in Yemen. UNFPA leads coordination and provision of lifesaving women's protection services throughout Yemen, reaching thousands of survivors of different forms of violence. UNFPA leads the multi-agency Rapid Response Mechanism across the country, providing lifesaving assistance to displaced persons at the frontlines.