Yemen Complex Emergency Fact Sheet #16

September 22, 2017

  • Cholera outbreak nears 700,000 suspected cases as of September 19.
  • Airstrikes in western Yemen and attacks in Ta’izz Governorate result in 32 civilian casualties.
  • USG announces $168.5 million in new humanitarian funding to support critical relief efforts in Yemen.
  • WHO treats 2,300 children for severe acute malnutrition.

Numbers At A Glance

27.4 million

Population of Yemen

20.7 million

People in Need of 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

5.9 million

People Reached with Humanitarian Assistance in 2017


Humanitarian Funding

For the Yemen Response in
FY 2017

USAID/OFDA $227,996,106
USAID/FFP $369,629,239
State/PRM $38,125,000
TOTAL $635,750,345

On September 21, USAID Administrator Mark Green announced approximately $575 million in new humanitarian funding to support emergency response activities in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen—the four conflict-affected countries facing severe food insecurity and malnutrition crises—as well as neighboring countries hosting refugees fleeing those crises. The new funding for Yemen includes approximately $112.7 million from USAID/OFDA and $55.8 million from USAID/FFP, bringing total U.S. Government (USG) humanitarian assistance in Yemen to nearly $636 million to date in FY 2017. UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) plan to use the new assistance to address Yemen’s food security crisis and unprecedented cholera outbreak.

As of September 19, health agencies had recorded nearly 700,000 suspected cholera cases and 2,101 related deaths since the outbreak resurged in late April, according to USAID/OFDA partner the UN World Health Organization (WHO). USG partners are distributing cholera prevention supplies, such as water purification tablets; establishing additional cholera treatment centers (CTCs) and oral rehydration centers (ORCs); and providing safe drinking water to vulnerable populations.

Access constraints continue to hinder humanitarian response activities in Yemen. Approximately 700,000 people in acute need of relief assistance live in districts where humanitarian access is highly constrained, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Insecurity—including airstrikes by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)-led Coalition and attacks by Al Houthis and armed groups—and bureaucratic access constraints continue to result in civilian casualties and hinder humanitarian response activities in Yemen. As of August 31, approximately 1.7 million people were residing in districts with high access constraints, of whom approximately 700,000 were in acute need of humanitarian assistance. The districts with high access constraints primarily fall within the conflict-affected governorates of Hajjah, Al Jawf, Marib, Sa’dah, and Ta’izz, OCHA reports.

Attacks allegedly conducted by Al Houthi forces struck residential areas in the city of Ta’izz on September 15, killing three children and injuring at least seven people. On September 16, an alleged KSA-led Coalition airstrike struck a civilian vehicle in Marib’s Harib Al Qaramish District, resulting in 12 deaths, according to the UN.

Between March 2015 and September 2017, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) verified approximately 14,000 civilian casualties across Yemen, including nearly 5,200 deaths and an estimated 8,800 injuries. Airstrikes are the leading cause of civilian casualties in the country, the UN agency reports.

In response to continued harm to civilians, OHCHR issued a statement on September 19 urging all parties to the conflict to cease indiscriminate attacks, take all possible precautions to properly distinguish military objectives from civilians objects, and ensure attacks are not directed at civilians or civilian objects.

The cholera outbreak in Yemen continues, affecting 303 of Yemen’s 333 districts, as of September 19. In response, USG partners are conducting critical health, nutrition, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions to curb the spread of the disease and respond to increased humanitarian needs as a result of the outbreak.

Health agencies recorded nearly 698,400 suspected cholera cases and 2,101 related deaths between April 27 and September 19, according to WHO. Relief actors report an increase in suspected cholera cases in Aden, Al Hudaydah, Ibb, and Sana’a governorates in recent weeks, which WHO attributes in some locations to crowded public gatherings and communal food sharing during the Eid holidays.

The national case fatality rate of suspected cholera cases has declined in recent weeks, from 0.35 percent in late August to 0.3 percent in mid-September. However, recurring spikes in some governorates, such as in Sana’a—where the number of suspected cases quadrupled between late August and early September—may also indicate that permanent, sustainable improvements can only take hold when safe drinking water is available and WASH infrastructure is strengthened, according to health experts.

Partners of the Health Cluster—the coordinating body for humanitarian health activities, comprising UN agencies, NGOs, and other stakeholders—had established 250 of 280 planned CTCs, more than 4,000 of 5,000 planned beds in CTCs, and nearly 1,300 of approximately 2,000 planned ORCs in 234 cholera-affected districts as of September 19, the cluster reports. To date, the USG has provided approximately $38.5 million to nin partner organizations to implement cholera response efforts in Yemen.

In addition, Health Cluster partners had trained 98 rapid response teams and deployed 22 rapid response teams to ensure effective investigation of potential cholera cases and chlorination of water sources, as of September 19. The teams consist of a district surveillance coordinator, an epidemiologist, a health education officer, a WASH officer, and a director of the district health office.

As of September 19, local volunteers had reached approximately 14 million people across Yemen with information on safe food handling and proper WASH practices through a countrywide house-to-house cholera prevention messaging campaign, WHO reports. In addition, WHO has distributed approximately 38,000 information pamphlets to NGOs, UN partners, and health facilities to date in 2017.

A shipment of nearly 7.4 million USAID/OFDA-procured water purification tablets arrived at Al Hudaydah Port on September 12 for onward distribution by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to beneficiaries and implementing partners. The supplies, which are sufficient to provide safe drinking water to approximately 838,000 people for one month, are intended to fill a gap while relief organizations procure additional supplies.

Commercial food imports increased between January and July, resulting in improved food availability in many local markets in Yemen. Although the increased availability of food benefits individuals with sufficient income, the majority of Yemeni households face limited livelihood opportunities and diminished purchasing power due to prolonged conflict throughout the country. However, the increased food availability may expand opportunities for relief organizations to provide emergency food assistance through market-based interventions, such as food vouchers. In areas under active fighting and ongoing airstrikes, including in the governorates of Aden, Al Bayda’, Ad Dali’, Al Jawf, Lahij, Sa’dah, Shabwah, and Ta’izz, basic food and household items remain scarce, according to USAID/FFP partner the UN World Food Program (WFP).

USG partners WFP and UNICEF are jointly scaling up operations in Yemen for the community-based management of malnutrition, an integrated approach to malnutrition treatment that incorporates community mobilization, feeding programs, outpatient programs, and inpatient care.

As of September 19, USG partner WHO had treated approximately 2,300 children in 2017 for severe acute malnutrition (SAM). In addition, UNICEF had referred more than 100,000 children with SAM for therapeutic care and treated approximately 18,000 for SAM, as of July 31. WHO is supporting 20 therapeutic feeding centers in 10 governorates in 2017, compared to 12 therapeutic feeding centers in seven governorates in 2016. Additionally, WHO had trained approximately 220 health workers in nutrition surveillance as of September 19.

From August 16–31, WFP facilitated the transport of 139 metric tons (MT) of relief cargo from Djibouti to Sana’a via weekly plane operations. With USAID support, the aircraft completed 12 flight rotations, and a WFP-chartered ship transported 122 relief workers between the two countries during the same period. WFP supports the international community’s response to Yemen’s cholera outbreak by providing logistics services, including chartered airlifts, truck convoys, telecommunications support, contracted warehouses in Aden and Hudaydah, and a mobile storage unit for transporting supplies and medicines.

The Government of Australia (GoA) recently provided approximately $10 million to support life-saving humanitarian interventions in Yemen. The contribution will help procure emergency food assistance for vulnerable populations, as well as support access to safe drinking water for an estimated 30,000 people. To date in 2017, the GoA has provided approximately $20 million to the Yemen humanitarian response.

The 2017 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) had received more than $1 billion, approximately 45 percent, of the total funding request of $2.3 billion as of September 22. In addition, donors had contributed nearly $480 million to organizations working in Yemen outside the framework of the Yemen HRP.

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 March 2015, the KSA-led Coalition began airstrikes on Al Houthi and allied forces to halt their southward expansion. The ongoing conflict has damaged or destroyed public infrastructure, interrupted essential services, 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.

Since March 2015, the escalated conflict, coupled with protracted political instability, the resulting economic crisis, rising fuel and food prices, and high unemployment, has left more than 17 million people food-insecure and more than 20.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. In addition, the conflict had displaced nearly 3 million people, including more than 900,000 people who had returned to areas of origin, as of September 2017. The volatility of the current situation prevents relief agencies from obtaining accurate, comprehensive demographic information.

On October 26, 2016, U.S. Ambassador Matthew H. Tueller re-issued a disaster declaration for the ongoing 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.

In late April 2017, an outbreak that began in October 2016 resurged, necessitating intensive humanitarian response efforts throughout the country, particularly health and WASH interventions. The USG is supporting partners to respond to increased humanitarian needs resulting from the cholera outbreak.

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