Laraib Shahid


A Crisis Within A Crisis: An Overview Of The Events In Yemen

08 July 2020

People stand in line to receive vouchers from the World Food Program in Sana'a on 3 June. Yemen is seeing a drop in remittances from abroad at the same time as international aid is cut. (Khaled Abdullah/REUTERS)

Amid a civil war that dates back to the 2011 Arab Spring, a COVID-19 outbreak in Yemen has only added more to the difficulties being experienced by nearly 80 percent of the Yemen population.

According to UNICEF, Yemen is experiencing the most extreme humanitarian crisis in the world, with 24 million people, including 12 million children, in need of humanitarian assistance.

The unrest in Yemen began during a power struggle between the Muslim sects of Shia and Sunni. Currently, the nation is controlled by the Sunni president, Mansur Hadi, who is living in exile in Saudi Arabia.

For much of the civil war, the Sunni side has been and continues to be backed by Saudi Arabia, while Iran influences the Shia-backed Houthi movement.

The struggle for power between the two sects has only made the lives of vulnerable people more miserable.

The ongoing war has led to a high inflation rate and unprecedented unemployment. As a result, a majority of the Yemen populace have had to opt for cheaper low-quality meals or cut their meal portions, which has led to a majority of the population suffering from malnutrition. UNICEF reports that “nearly 2.2 million children in Yemen are acutely malnourished.”

Photograph: AFP/File Photo

Recently, access to clean water has become a privilege for the people in Yemen, a country that’s also experiencing one of the worst cholera outbreaks that the world has seen. According to the Centre Of Health Security, at a point during the cholera outbreak, “One life was lost every hour.”  

Yemen’s health care system which was initially on the on the brink of collapse due to the damage that the civil war had done to medical facilities would’ve been non-existent without assistance from other countries. Reduced foreign funding for the country due to global struggles with the pandemic has, however, left the Yemeni people more vulnerable.

The nation’s testing capacity during the Covid-19 pandemic has remained low. Additionally, the lack of ventilators has led to the digging of mass graves being viewed as the only solution. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in Yemen could be a lot higher than the number shared.

To date, the number of cases and deaths due to COVID-19 in Yemen remains underreported.