Christian Friis Bach in a settlement for internally displaced persons in Yemen. Photo: Naif Rahmah

After four years of conflict, millions of Yemenis are pushed to the brink of famine

As we enter 2019 and almost four years since the start of the war, Yemen continues to be torn apart by conflict, diminished purchasing power, currency fluctuations, collapsing public services, grave violations against children, cholera outbreaks, loss of livelihoods and famine. Today, the people of Yemen face dire living conditions, disease and displacement with an acute lack of access to basic services, food and water. The international response, however, has been unable to meet the ever-increasing needs.


“I have just visited a 7-year old girl in Hodeida paralyzed after being hit in the head by shrapnel from a bomb and a young man struggling to survive with his family under a piece of tarpaulin in a camp near Abs for those displaced from conflict. These are the faces of the extreme humanitarian emergency. I hope the world will see these faces and act quickly to address the severe humanitarian needs of the people of Yemen,” said the Danish Refugee Council’s Secretary General Christian Friis Bach, who is currently visiting the country.

Although the context is subject to sudden and dramatic developments, recent peace negotiations held in Sweden between Yemen’s warring parties have resulted in agreement for a ceasefire in the port city of Hodeida, which started on the 18th of December 2018. This is a major breakthrough, which could pave the way to ending the conflict.

“When visiting Hodeida city and the port and seeing the victims of conflict, the road blocks and barriers I understood how fragile the ceasefire is and just how important the port of Hodeida is as the lifeline for the people of Yemen. The UN, the international community, and most importantly all parties in Yemen must come together and protect the ceasefire, protect this lifeline and protect this window of hope for peace and humanitarian assistance,” said Christian Friis Bach.

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Christian Friis Bach at the port of Hodeida

More than 20 million Yemenis are now destitute and in desperate need of humanitarian assistance across the country with more than two million forced to flee their homes. Protracted displacement continues to put additional pressure on the already scarce services and resources, and with the economy besieged and in ruins, two thirds of Yemen’s entire population is at risk of famine.

“This man-made conflict remains the major driver of the humanitarian emergency. Today, millions of Yemenis rely entirely on humanitarian aid to survive and many face starvation. Humanitarian organisations are working hard to ensure people in need have quick and safe access to food, water, medicine, shelter and protection. It is crucial that humanitarian aid is supported and unimpeded access to Yemenis in need of assistance is granted so the people of Yemen can survive this brutal war,” said Christian Friis Bach.

To address the massive humanitarian needs of what is considered one of the world’s worst crises, Bach is not only urging for a significant increase in the humanitarian support, he is also calling for a political solution to end the crisis to allow Yemenis to rebuild their lives in safety and dignity.

“I urge all parties to negotiate an end to this conflict and I urge the international community to actively support a political solution so the people of Yemen can restore and rebuild their lives in safety and dignity. We can and must do more to help them,” concluded Christian Friis Bach.

About the Danish Refugee Council (DRC):

The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) is a humanitarian, non-governmental, non-profit organisation founded in 1956 that works in more than 30 countries throughout the world. DRC fulfils its mandate by providing direct assistance to conflict-affected populations – refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs) and host communities in the conflict areas of the world; and by advocating on behalf of conflict-affected populations internationally, and in Denmark, on the basis of humanitarian principles and the Human Rights Declaration. 

DRC has been in Yemen since 2008 and provides multi-sectorial assistance from nine field offices with a country wide coverage. DRC upholds its main programmatic objective in Yemen to save lives and provide immediate and life sustaining assistance through reducing displacement related risks and vulnerabilities and promoting self-reliance. 

Note to Editors:

  • Photos of Christian Friis Bach visit can be found here.

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