Yemen

Conflicts in Yemen have had devastating impacts on people, leading to one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. The country is one of the priority zones of the Humanitarian Aid of SDC whose activities are primarily focused on water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as the protection of civilians. 

Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Middle East, has experienced many natural and manmade disasters and is currently also facing famine. Because of population growth, massive displacement and poor water management, water scarcity is becoming an increasingly serious problem. Lack of access to fresh water is the biggest cause of malnutrition, morbidity and mortality in rural areas. The conflict that started in March 2015 has exacerbated the situation, leaving almost 19 million people in need.

Switzerland’s humanitarian assistance in Yemen focuses primarily on water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as the protection of civilians. Support is also given in the field of food security.

Improved access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene

Yemen is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world. Poor management, protracted conflicts, massive displacements and insecurity have also contributed to water shortages. In the absence of state structures, arbitrary pumping of groundwater has increased and public water facilities have collapsed.

Switzerland’s humanitarian assistance not only addresses immediate needs but also works on the sustainable use of limited water resources. The SDC supports multilateral organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and international NGOs to improve access to clean water and sanitation facilities. Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit specialists are deployed to transfer skills and knowhow on water management, prevention of water borne-diseases and sustainable use of water.

Water – a vital resource under threat

Protecting women, children and other vulnerable groups

People in Yemen suffer from the indiscriminate use of weapons that do not differentiate between civilians and combatants. Cluster munitions, drones and landmines have caused disproportionate loss of civilian life and property. Switzerland continues to call on all parties to comply with international humanitarian law.

The conflict has also aggravated existing gender inequalities in Yemen. Cases of sexual and gender-based violence are on the rise. Switzerland supports access to protection services for women, young people and internally displaced people, including shelter, counselling and health services.

Disaster risk reduction, emergency relief, reconstruction and protection

Approach and partners

Since the SDC’s Humanitarian Aid office in Sana’a was closed in December 2014 because of the country’s deteriorating security situation, its activities in Yemen have been coordinated from the head office in Bern. However, a number of Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) specialists are deployed in the Yemen for short term missions and some are also seconded to UN agencies or the ICRC.

Most of the SDC’s humanitarian aid budget for Yemen goes to its multilateral partners, namely the ICRC, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Food Programme (WFP).