Yemen Complex Emergency Fact Sheet #10

May 25, 2017

  • Renewed outbreak of cholera spreads in 19 governorates, with more than 41,900 suspected cases recorded since late April.
  • US government (USG) contributes an additional $77.1 million to support emergency relief operations in Yemen.
  • Humanitarian agencies, including USG partners, provide life-saving assistance to approximately 4.8 million people from January to early May.

Numbers At A Glance

27.4 million

Population of Yemen

18.8 million

People in Need of Urgent Humanitarian Assistance

14.8 million

People Lacking Adequate Access to Health Care

17.1 million

Food-Insecure People

7.3 million

People in Need of Emergency Food Assistance

2 million

IDPs in Yemen

5.6 million

People Reached with Humanitarian Assistance in 2016


Humanitarian Funding

For the Yemen Response in
FY 2017

USAID/OFDA $65,904,272
USAID/FFP $177,681,730
State/PRM $32,025,000
TOTAL $275,611,002

Health authorities have reported more than 41,900 suspected cholera cases and 418 associated deaths across 19 of Yemen’s 22 governorates since April 27. Local officials in the capital city of Sana’a declared a state of emergency on May 14 due to the rapid increase in transmission since late April. Humanitarian organizations have prepared a cholera response plan, appealing for $55.4 million to address urgent needs over six months, and mobilized health personnel, procured medical supplies, and distributed water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) materials in affected areas countrywide.

On May 24, the U.S. Government (USG) announced approximately $77.1 million in additional FY 2017 funding to support humanitarian activities in Yemen. The contribution includes approximately $37.5 million from USAID/FFP, $29 million from USAID/OFDA, and $10.6 million from State/PRM. The additional funding will support non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations, and UN agencies implementing emergency food assistance and nutrition activities, distributing relief supplies, and providing protection and shelter assistance, as well as health and WASH services in cholera-affected areas. In total, the USG has contributed approximately $276 million for the Yemen response to date in FY 2017.

UN and NGO partners continue to report access and security constraints due to the presence of armed groups, ground fighting, airstrikes, and other factors causing sporadic yet significant delays in aid delivery across Yemen. Nonetheless, relief agencies, including USG partners, provided access to safe drinking water, emergency food and nutrition assistance, and health care services to benefit approximately 4.8 million people between January and May 9.

Relief actors continue to emphasize the importance of unimpeded humanitarian access to existing sea and air ports, noting in particular that potential clashes at Al Hudaydah Port and in nearby areas could further deteriorate humanitarian conditions in Yemen. On May 7, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordination (RC/HC) for Yemen Jamie McGoldrick released a statement calling on all parties to allow humanitarian access countrywide. In particular, RC/HC McGoldrick underscored that administrative delays at ports and interference with aid deliveries were hampering the timely delivery of medications and medical supplies for vulnerable populations.

The Yemen Red Sea Ports Corporation recently announced that shipping companies using Al Hudaydah Port will incur increased tariffs beginning June 1, due in part to increasing fuel and port management costs and insecurity-related challenges. These new fees will likely increase the cost of importing much-needed humanitarian assistance, as well as the price of commercial goods once in country, for vulnerable populations with already limited resources. The UN estimates that at least 90 percent of Yemen’s food, fuel, and medical supplies are imported.

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed traveled to Sana’a from May 22–24 to meet with officials and discuss the potential military operation in Al Hudaydah Governorate, the cholera epidemic, and outstanding salary payments for civil servants. According to international media, UN Special Envoy Ahmed urged parties to the conflict to avoid clashes near the port and stressed the need for the Central Bank of Yemen to remain independent to allow Al Houthi and Republic of Yemen Government (RoYG) authorities to pay salaries across conflict lines. Following a May 22 attack on his convoy in Sana’a, UN Special Envoy Ahmed expressed deep concern regarding the safety of UN personnel in Yemen and highlighted the need to ensure accountability and prevent such violence in the future. Media reports indicate that the trip did not advance the ongoing peace negotiations among parties to the conflict.

Hostilities continue along Yemen’s western coast, particularly in Ta’izz, where conflict displaced nearly 50,000 people between January and April, the UN reports. State/PRM partner the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other relief organizations report significant humanitarian needs among displaced and host community populations throughout Ta’izz, particularly in Al Mokha District, where the UN agency reached more than 6,200 people with emergency assistance in May, adding to the nearly 69,900 beneficiaries already reached since January.

Between March 2015 and March 2017, conflict displaced approximately 3 million people across Yemen, including nearly 2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and more than 900,000 people who have since returned to areas of origin, according to the Task Force for Population Movement (TFPM). The most recent report from the TFPM—a technical working group co-led by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR—found a 14 percent decrease in the number of individuals returning to areas of origin from February to late March, with the largest decrease in returnees occurring in Aden, Al Hudaydah, and Amanat al-Asimah governorates. The task force attributed the decrease in returnees in Al Hudaydah and Ta’izz to escalating clashes in western Yemen and subsequent secondary displacement of returnees.

With 17 million people experiencing Crisis—IPC 3—or Emergency—IPC 4—levels of food insecurity, Yemen is the largest food security emergency globally, according to the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET). Relief agencies have played a critical role in limiting food insecurity in several governorates; however, FEWS NET forecasts that, without increased humanitarian assistance, continued insecurity and economic instability could further impact food security in western Yemen by September.

From May 1 to 21, USAID/FFP partner the UN World Food Program (WFP) distributed in-kind food assistance to approximately 1.8 million people and reached more than 198,300 people with food vouchers in food insecure areas. USAID/FA USAID/FFP NGO partner reached nearly 9,500 vulnerable households, including displaced and host community families, in Ta’izz with vouchers for the purchase of food commodities from January to March. The voucher distributions represent a nearly 375 percent increase compared to distributions between October and December 2016. USAID/FFP recently committed $25 million in additional FY 2017 funding to two NGO partners to support emergency food assistance in eight governorates.

The Logistics Cluster—the coordinating body for humanitarian logistics activities, comprising UN agencies, NGOs, and other stakeholders—is scaling up efforts to assist conflict-affected communities to address the needs of populations experiencing acute food insecurity and malnutrition in Yemen. In support of the Logistics Cluster, USAID/OFDA partner the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) recently transported 45 metric tons (MT) of nutrition assistance and medical supplies to Sana’a for Action Against Hunger, USAID’s Partnership for Supply Chain Management project, the UN World Health Organization (WHO), and World Relief/Germany.

USAID/OFDA partners continue to provide humanitarian aid, including agricultural and livelihoods support, to conflict-affected communities amid ongoing insecurity and operating constraints. In Raymah Governorate, a USAID/OFDA-supported NGO distributed agricultural supplies, such as farming equipment and fertilizer, to nearly 1,400 farmers between January and March. The NGO also provided training on pesticide use to nearly 500 farmers in Al Hudaydah and Raymah during the same period. WFP recently provided an additional $12.5 million in FY 2017 in-kind food assistance to support WFP’s new emergency operation plan, which aims to reach more than 9 million people with emergency food assistance.

Since April 27, health actors have recorded at least 41,900 new suspected cholera cases and 418 associated deaths in 19 governorates, according to the Health Cluster. USAID/OFDA partner WHO estimates that the current case fatality rate (CFR) is nearly 1 percent, which is the WHO emergency threshold for cholera, although the CFR is likely higher in areas with poor access to health care services.

Sana’a authorities declared a state of emergency on May 14 due to the rapid increase in the number of suspected cases in the city since April 27. Health Cluster members have reported more than 10,200 suspected cases and 31 associated deaths in the city to date. Yemen’s damaged health and WASH infrastructure and mounting levels of uncollected garbage, as well as recent heavy rains and warm weather, have contributed to increasingly contaminated water sources and favorable conditions for cholera transmission, according to WHO. Food insecurity and malnutrition, particularly among children and pregnant and nursing women, have increased the population’s susceptibility to infection.

Humanitarian stakeholders have expressed concerns regarding the current speed of suspected cholera transmission, noting a more than threefold increase in the number of suspected cholera cases and associated deaths compared to the total recorded between October 2016 and March 2017. In response to the outbreak, relief actors have prepared a targeted response plan, appealing for $55.4 million to address urgent cholera-related needs—including case management, chlorination of water supplies, hygiene promotion, integrated prevention activities, and treatment services—over six months.

In recent weeks, USG partners and other relief organizations have dispatched mobile clinics to affected areas, and medical teams are supporting cholera-related testing, surveillance, and treatment. From May 8 to 13, USAID/OFDA partner WHO distributed 11 cholera and diarrheal disease kits, more than 90 cholera beds, and more than 30,000 bottles of intravenous fluids to health facilities in Al Hudaydah, Amanat al-Asimah, Ibb, and Sana’a governorates. USAID/OFDA recently committed $16 million in additional FY 2017 funding to WHO to support health facilities, nutrition stabilization centers, and mobile health and nutrition teams with medical and relief supplies to benefit more than 1.9 million people across 12 governorates.

In early May, USG partner IOM delivered more than 3 MT of medicine and medical supplies to Al Jamhuri Hospital in Sana’a in response to the increasing number of patients arriving with cholera-related symptoms. IOM continues to provide public hospitals throughout Yemen with medical supplies and equipment, electricity, rechargeable batteries, solar panels, water tanks, and daily water trucking. USAID/OFDA recently provided more than $13 million to support IOM’s integrated health, nutrition, and WASH programs, including delivering safe drinking water, procuring and distributing shelter kits, and providing emergency health and nutrition services to conflict-affected populations.

Through a USAID/OFDA-supported NGO, emergency medical teams provided primary health care services to nearly 6,000 individuals in Al Hudaydah and Hajjah governorates during March and April. The NGO also conducted reproductive health education sessions for approximately 680 people, disseminated health and hygiene promotion messaging to nearly 1,400 individuals, identified 180 malnutrition cases, and provided counseling services to more than 500 IDPs. As of May 23, another NGO partner had distributed tents, water chlorination materials, and oral rehydration supplies to health facilities in four districts of Sana’a, trained approximately 280 community health volunteers, and commenced a cholera awareness campaign, which is targeting an estimated 4,320 people, in response to the recent surge in cases. The NGO is also preparing to expand its cholera response activities in Ibb and Ta’izz.

State/PRM recently committed approximately $10.6 million in additional FY 2017 funding to an implementing partner to support relief activities in conflict-affected areas across Yemen

Approximately half of Yemen’s population—14.5 million people—lack access to adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) supplies and services, increasing the risk of communicable disease transmission, according to the UN. Additionally, health organizations report shortages of critical medical equipment and medication for the treatment of cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and other chronic diseases. Relief stakeholders are working to support the health system; for example, USG partner the International Organization for Migration (IOM) recently contributed approximately 3 metric tons (MT) of medications and other medical supplies to Al Thawra Hospital in Sana’a.

USAID/OFDA partner the UN World Health Organization (WHO) reported more than 300 new suspected cholera cases in Al Bayda, Hajjah, and Sana’a governorates between March 20 and April 2, increasing the cumulative total to approximately 24,500 suspected cases. However, the cumulative number of cholera-related deaths remained at 108 as of April 2, and the incidence of confirmed cholera cases and the number of districts reporting suspected cases continue to decline since the outbreak’s peak in December 2016.

From February to mid-April, the UN and its partner organizations conducted a countrywide polio immunization campaign, reaching nearly 5 million children ages five years and younger, the UN reports. The World Bank, WHO, and UNICEF supported the polio campaign by working with health workers, local council officials, and religious leaders to mobilize communities, promote awareness, and extend the campaign’s reach to IDPs and other high-risk groups.

USAID/OFDA recently provided more than $980,000 to an NGO partner to improve access to life-saving nutrition and primary health care services in vulnerable communities in Ibb, Sana’a, and Ta’izz through community health education, health facility and stabilization center support, and mobile health and nutrition teams. USAID/OFDA also contributed nearly $645,000 to an NGO partner to increase access to safe drinking water and sanitation services and to improve hygiene facilities and practices in areas of Ibb, Sana’a, and Ta’izz. Activities include the delivery of hygiene kits and safe drinking water, rehabilitation of communal and public water points and sanitation facilities, and WASH awareness activities and trainings.

With support from USAID/OFDA, an NGO distributed personal hygiene kits and provided hygiene education for nearly 3,600 beneficiaries in Al Jawf Governorate, as well as delivered 13.6 million liters of safe drinking water to 40 communities in Abyan and Lahij between March 16 and April 13. USAID/OFDA recently provided more than $150,000 to improve access to community-based management of malnutrition services and infant and young child feeding in conflict-affected communities in Ibb, Sana’a, and Ta’izz through an NGO partner.

With funding from nearly 40 donors, more than 120 national and international humanitarian organizations, including 85 local NGOs, 30 international NGOs, and nine UN agencies, are coordinating efforts to deliver life-saving assistance throughout Yemen. Relief agencies assisted approximately 700,000 people with health services, provided 1 million people with access to safe drinking water, reached 3 million people with monthly emergency food assistance, and treated 100,000 acutely malnourished children and pregnant or lactating women between January and early May, according to the UN.

The World Bank continues to increase its funding to support relief efforts in Yemen. On May 19, the organization announced approximately $283 million in additional financing for the expansion of an emergency program that provides cash transfers for the purchase of food commodities and nutritional supplements to an estimated 8 million people in the poorest areas in the country.

Between 2004 and early 2015, conflict between the Republic of Yemen Government (RoYG) and Al Houthi opposition forces in the north and between Al Qaeda-affiliated groups and RoYG forces in the south affected more than 1 million people and repeatedly displaced populations in northern Yemen, resulting in humanitarian needs. Fighting between RoYG forces and tribal and militant groups since 2011 limited the capacity of the RoYG to provide basic services, and humanitarian needs increased among impoverished populations. The expansion of Al Houthi forces in 2014 and 2015 resulted in the renewal and escalation of conflict and displacement, further exacerbating already deteriorated humanitarian conditions.

In late March 2015, a KSA-led Coalition began airstrikes on Al Houthi and allied forces to halt their southward expansion. The ongoing conflict has damaged public infrastructure, interrupted essential services, displaced many people, and reduced the level of commercial imports to a fraction of the levels required to sustain the Yemeni population. The country relies on imports for 90 percent of its grain and other food sources.

The escalated conflict, coupled with protracted political instability, the resulting economic crisis, rising fuel and food prices, and high unemployment, has left more than half of Yemen’s 27.4 million people food-insecure and more than 7 million people in need of emergency food assistance. In addition, the conflict had displaced a total of 3 million people, including approximately 1 million people who had returned to areas of origin, as of January 2017. The volatility of the current situation prevents relief agencies from obtaining accurate, comprehensive demographic information.

In early 2015, Yemen hosted approximately 248,000 refugees and a large population of third-country nationals (TCNs). The escalation in hostilities prompted IOM to organize large-scale TCN evacuations from Yemen.

On October 26, 2016, U.S. Ambassador Matthew H. Tueller re-issued a disaster declaration for the complex emergency in Yemen for FY 2017 due to continued humanitarian needs resulting from the complex emergency and the impact of the country’s political and economic crises on vulnerable populations.

The most effective way people can assist relief efforts is by making cash contributions to humanitarian organizations that are conducting relief operations. A list of humanitarian organizations that are accepting cash donations for disaster responses around the world can be found at

USAID encourages cash donations because they allow aid professionals to procure the exact items needed (often in the affected region); reduce the burden on scarce resources (such as transportation routes, staff time, and warehouse space); can be transferred very quickly and without transportation costs; support the economy of the disaster-stricken region; and ensure culturally, dietary, and environmentally appropriate assistance.

More information can be found at:
- USAID Center for International Disaster Information: or +1.202.821.1999.
- Information on relief activities of the humanitarian community can be found at