Remittance to YemenEight years of civil war have thrust Yemen into a state of economic and humanitarian emergency. The conflict has left 2.3 million children acutely malnourished, giving the media and nonprofits alike no choice but to report a dismal picture. There is, however, an untold story at play. The story of remittance to Yemen demonstrates that familial solidarity remains steadfast in times of crisis.

In short, remittance to Yemen refers to money transfers sent home by Yemenis who are working overseas, usually from the Gulf states, the U.S. and the U.K. More than 200 million migrants worldwide send remittances home to their families every year.

The World Bank estimates that, as of 2023, 24.1 million people in Yemen were at risk of hunger and disease. A further 14 million required acute assistance. It is these statistics that set the precedent for the importance of remittance for alleviating the country’s humanitarian emergency. Here is an overview of just some of the ways that remittance to Yemen is making a difference. 

Preventing Hunger and Starvation

The World Bank has declared that vast numbers of Yemenis are living on the verge of famine. “My daughter had malnutrition due to our harsh living conditions and lack of income”, Waleed Al-Ahdal told UNICEF. Al-Ahdal’s story is one of many. With countless others surfacing, it is unsurprising that UNICEF has warned that “no place in Yemen is safe for children.”

However, without the security of remittance payments, the situation would be even more grave. Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director, Muhsin Siddiquey, has warned that Yemenis would have to rely on international aid “without the safety net of remittances.” With one in 10 people in Yemen relying solely on money transfers to meet their basic needs, the cruciality of remittance to Yemeni survival becomes clear. 

A Display of Solidarity

As well as combatting starvation, overseas Yemenis supporting their families to fend for themselves shows solidarity. The International Day of Family Remittances falls on June 16 every year and is a universally-recognized observance. This symbolic day celebrates migrant workers’ dedication to the well-being of their loved ones. 

Just 20 years ago, remittances were unaccounted for in international statistics — as were the sacrifices of migrant workers. Acknowledging remittance to Yemen as a powerful tool of poverty prevention is setting the precedence for the international community to follow suit and take humanitarian action. 

Setting the Precedence for Foreign Aid

The necessity for overseas money transfers to meet basic needs has put Yemen’s humanitarian crisis on the international radar. When allied with remittance payments, global action is having a real impact on the ground.

For example, The Yemen Social Fund for Development’s Cash for Nutrition program targets pregnant women and women with children less than 5 years old, teaching them about child nutrition and providing them with money for food. The World Bank estimates that 165,000 pregnant or lactating women and 175,000 children have been reached by the project so far.

An Economic Investment

Gilbert Houngbo, chief of IFAD, has described remittances sent by migrant workers as a “win-win solution”. He explains that remittance payments are positive for the workers’ countries of origin as well as the host countries. Houngbo estimates that 15% of each salary earned by overseas migrants in a host country is sent home in the form of remittance. The significance here is that this leaves an average of 85% of migrant income circulating in the host country, contributing to the national GDP. 

Of course, the humanitarian necessity of remittance is more pressing, but the economic benefits play a key part in encouraging states and service providers to facilitate the money transfers of migrants into and out of their countries. Economically speaking, remittance is a mutually beneficial enterprise. 

More Needs To Be Done

Remittance payments have their drawbacks. They do not target the root causes of extreme poverty in Yemen. Instead, they merely counteract the devastating impact war has had on the population’s basic needs. 

Moreover, the flow of remittance into Yemen is an unstable source of aid. One remittance service provider in Sa’ada saw a reduction in migrant money transfers of 96% between January 2020 and April of the same year. Likely a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global crisis exposed the insecurity of remittance with devastating consequences.

“I purchase food on credit from the grocery and have two months overdue rent,” Abu Ameer told Oxfam. Ameer’s plight worsened when his son stopped working due to the lockdown. As a result, Ameer’s son ceased payments to his father from Saudi Arabia. Ameer’s reliance on his son’s income laid bare the fragility of remittance as a method of reducing extreme poverty. 

While remittance to Yemen has evidently not ended the civil war, nor has it eradicated extreme poverty in the country, it remains a symbol of unity and a provider of aid for those most in need.  

– Imogen Townsend
Photo: Flickr

War in YemenThe war in Yemen began in 2014 when Shiite rebels linked to Iran took control of the largest city and the capital of Yemen, Sana’a. During this period, rebels demanded lower fuel prices as well as a new government. They also seized the presidential palace after failed negotiations and ​​President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi resigned along with his government. The rebels have gained significant territory and the civil war continues to this day. The citizens of Yemen have been directly affected by the fighting for almost 10 years. And for more than a decade, the basic human needs of the population of Yemen have not been met.

In 2023, the United Nations (U.N.) estimated that 24.1 million people in Yemen are at risk of hunger and around 14 million Yemenis are in need of acute assistance. Poverty has worsened in recent years, affecting approximately 71% to 78% of the Yemeni population.

The Water Crisis

Yemen is facing one of the most severe water crises globally, as reported by USAID. Basic human necessities, including water and sanitation, are not reaching the Yemeni people due to the ongoing war in the country.

Since 2018, USAID has taken significant steps to address this crisis, aiding over 1.5 million Yemenis lacking access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. Through these efforts, 505,000 Yemenis now have access to clean sewage systems and handwashing facilities, improving sanitary conditions. Additionally, USAID’s education initiatives have made a substantial impact, benefiting the people of Yemen in need. The organization has successfully increased access to clean water for 650,000 Yemenis since 2018.

Access to Health Care

The ongoing war in Yemen has had a significant impact on the health care system. According to the World Bank, only 50% of health facilities are completely functional and more than 80% of the population in Yemen has significant trouble accessing basic health care.

Organizations like Doctors Without Borders play a crucial role in providing health care services to the Yemeni people. The organization’s website displays its efforts to improve the quality of life for those in Yemen. Doctors Without Borders runs a mother-and-child hospital in Yemen. This hospital was established in 2016 and is located in Taiz Houban. It offers a wide variety of services, including trauma care, neonatal care and therapeutic feeding.

For people living in conflict-riddled countries, the mental health impacts are severe due to the ongoing trauma, violence and struggle for survival. For this reason, Doctors Without Borders established a mental health clinic located in Al-Jomhouri Authority Hospital where the team provides mental health services, including counseling.


Children under the age of 5 are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition due to the civil war. In 2022, UNICEF reported that 2.2 million children in this age group are facing acute malnutrition, along with 1.3 million pregnant individuals. According to the U.N., 7 million people are food insecure in Yemen, with 17 million people needing humanitarian assistance.

Doctors Without Borders noticed an increase in malnutrition cases in its hospitals in Amran governorate since May of 2022. With the availability of clinics and hospitals, there may be ways to combat malnutrition, especially in children.

Food insecurity levels in Yemen have worsened, with an increase from 31,000 to 161,000 people facing extreme hunger. Rising food prices and the inability to afford nutritious items have contributed to the crisis. In 2022, flour increased by 38%, canned beans increased by 38% and eggs increased by 35%. These price increases have made it very difficult for many people in Yemen to afford food.

Looking Forward

The Yemeni population still faces dire consequences from the ongoing war, including malnutrition, limited access to clean water, and deteriorating mental health. The U.N. stresses the urgent requirement for aid as the conflict endures. Humanitarian access and donor cooperation remain crucial in supporting Yemen’s people. In April 2023, China played a role in mediating talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia to seek a political resolution and bring an end to the conflict. These discussions include plans to reopen embassies and restore diplomatic relations.

– Abigail DiCarlo
Photo: Unsplash

The Threat Of Famine In YemenYemen is currently facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, exacerbated by eight years of civil war since 2015. There is a struggle with economic instability, high unemployment, civil unrest and the threat of famine in Yemen. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), approximately 17 million Yemenis are experiencing food insecurity, with 3.5 million pregnant/breastfeeding women and children under 5 suffering from malnutrition. Oxfam reports a surge of nearly 11 million Yemenis facing food insecurity in the past four years, totaling around 20 million people.

During the civil war in 2017, Yemen’s ports were blocked due to military conflict, severely limiting the supply of food and medicine. This blockade worsened the humanitarian crisis, leaving millions of Yemenis facing food insecurity and limited access to health care. The outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 further compounded the hunger crisis and deteriorated health conditions. The war in Ukraine has also contributed to the spread of the epidemic in Yemen, with additional restrictions on grain supplies.

The threat of famine in Yemen puts breastfeeding mothers and children at significant risk of malnutrition and death. The recent devaluation of Yemen’s currency, the Riyal, coupled with rising prices of food and services, has made it even more challenging for families to afford adequate nourishment and health care. Access to medical care for treating malnutrition and other illnesses has become difficult due to escalating health care costs.

Ongoing Efforts

United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and Food for Peace, supports Yemen with humanitarian aid. The organization has also partnered with the Republic of Yemen Government (ROYG) to provide proper medical treatments and strengthen health care services. In addition to humanitarian assistance, USAID launched development assistance to Yemen in 2017. USAID emphasizes long-term development efforts such as education, infrastructure, economic growth and good governance to build resilience. Potentially, these efforts can help create a more stable and sustainable society where people can protect themselves from crises.

WFP has been working hard to alleviate the impact of famine in Yemen since 2015. The organization provided humanitarian aid to 15.3 million people in 2022 and raised $251.8 million in 2023. Fertilizers and farming equipment are provided to farmers to increase crop production. A total of 23,500 school students are fed every day in 2,173 schools.

As part of Yemen’s food assistance program, the WFP shipped 176,000 tons of food to the country through Oregon’s ships in 2018. Due to Yemen’s reliance on imported food, the WFP is setting up mobile cranes to speed up import unloading. Nearly 13 million people currently receive food assistance from WFP through vouchers and cash transfers. More than 254,000 tons of food were distributed by vouchers and nearly 934,794 tons of food were shipped in shipping containers by the organization in 2021.

Oxfam, another NGO, has assisted more than 3 million people with basic food needs and economic rehabilitation since July 2015, in addition to providing clean water, constructing sanitation facilities and providing hygiene kits.

Looking Ahead

David Gressly, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen highlights the urgent need to act swiftly and sustain an integrated humanitarian response that addresses food and nutrition, clean water, basic health care, protection and other essential needs for millions of people. Famine and economic instability remain significant challenges in Yemen, but initiatives led by organizations like USAID, WFP and Oxfam offer hope through their humanitarian and development assistance, benefiting millions of Yemenis with necessities such as food, clean water, primary health care and protection.

– Simran Raghav
Photo: Flickr

Relief for YemenRelief for Yemen has long been a goal of humanitarian politicians and activists. A bipartisan letter, signed by four U.S. senators, urges the Biden administration to allocate more federal funding for aid to Yemen.

The Letter of Appeal

Two Republican senators and two Democratic senators signed a letter appealing for more U.S. aid to Yemen. On May 4, 2021, Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Todd Young (R-IN), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) signed the open letter together in an act of humanitarian bipartisanship. The senators voiced their concern about the international community failing to reach previously established relief goals “after a recent United Nations fundraising appeal for the war-torn country fell short.”

In March 2021, international donors raised $1.35 billion in humanitarian aid for Yemen, falling short of the United Nations’ target goal of $3.85 billion, the estimated amount required for a comprehensive humanitarian response. As one of the most powerful countries in the world, the U.S. pledged only $19 million, much less than Oxfam’s recommended $1.2 billion.

All the while, close to “50,000 people in Yemen are living in famine-like conditions” and the conflict threatens to plummet another five million people into similar conditions. The conflict itself has already claimed tens of thousands of civilian lives. The humanitarian crisis and poverty brought on by the conflict have compromised the food security of more than 20 million people, accounting for two-thirds of Yemen’s population. The United Nations warns that “400,000 Yemeni children under the age of 5 could die from acute malnutrition” without swift humanitarian action.

Efforts to End the Crisis in Yemen

The open letter came around the same times as renewed calls for a ceasefire from the international community. Senator Murphy was in Yemen when the letter was released, joining Tim Lenderking, the U.S. special envoy for Yemen, as well as diplomats from Europe, with the hopes of brokering a ceasefire between Houthi rebel factions and the Saudi-led military coalition. Participants in the meeting demand an end to war crimes actively committed by both sides. The Biden administration has backed away from weapons sales in an effort to mitigate the conditions. But, the conflict and subsequent crises continue, requiring increased aid to Yemen.

UNICEF and the UN Assist

One of the priorities of UNICEF’s efforts in Yemen is to treat cases of acute malnutrition in children and assist children whose lives have been overturned by the continuous military conflict. Efforts range from facilitating access to therapeutic foods and educating children about the dangers of explosives scattered throughout the country. UNICEF is also restoring damaged schools in an effort to develop secure spaces for children to continue learning.

At a time of resurgent violence coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, foreign aid groups have stepped up relief measures in anticipation of increased demand for food. In one particular hotspot, within the Ma’rib Governorate, the intensification of military conflict has displaced at least 2,871 families. The U.N. Regional Coordination Team for Ma’rib aims to assist about 200,000 people in the area. Sanitation, nutrition and shelter remain top priories for these efforts.

Despite the scale of the crisis, international aid groups remain determined to provide relief. Senators, leaders and foreign diplomats are continuing efforts to broker a peace deal. The severity of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen requires broader support from the global community in order to upscale efforts and comprehensively provide aid to Yemen.

– Jack Thayer
Photo: Flickr

Save the Children’s Work in YemenSince the civil war in Yemen started in 2015, conflicts have left the country facing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. In the five years since the violence broke out, more than 3.6 million people have fled the country, and 24 million people, about 80% of the entire country, are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance—a figure that includes 12 million children. Two in three people in Yemen are not able to afford food, leaving half of Yemen in a state of near starvation. Over 70% of the country faces a severe shortage of food, safe water and healthcare, and there have been over one million cholera cases, 25% of them being of children. Save the Children in Yemen is working to aid children affected by the humanitarian crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Yemen Crisis Amid COVID-19

With the COVID-19 pandemic, Yemen has plunged deeper into poverty. The health care system is crumbling, with 50% of health facilities not operating and a lack of basic equipment, such as masks and gloves as well as medical equipment to treat COVID-19 like oxygen and ventilators. Health care workers are working without an income. Yemenis children under the age of 5 now experience the highest rates of acute malnutrition ever recorded, the number reaching half a million children in southern Yemen.

Even before the pandemic, a child died every 10 minutes due to preventable diseases, such as diarrhea and malnutrition, as there are no doctors in 20% of Yemeni districts. Amid the Yemen crisis, children are killed and injured, their schools are shut down and health care facilities are closed. With the situation leaving children more vulnerable than ever, the danger driven by war and poverty is now even further amplified by the pandemic.

Yemen’s unstable health care system is nowhere near equipped to handle the surge of COVID-19 cases amid the pandemic. In the entire country, there are only 500 ventilators and four labs for COVID-19 testing for a population of nearly 30 million. Despite the lack of preparation and available resources, there have been more than 2,000 COVID-19 cases in the country as of October 2020. The number of malnourished children under the age of 5 could rise to 2.4 million by the end of the year.

Save the Children Leading Child Aid in Yemen

Save the Children is the largest aid organization in Yemen that aims to provide basic needs and assistance to vulnerable children in the country. Since the organization started assisting Yemenis children in May of 2015, it has reached more than three million kids. Save the Children has protected 55,608 children from harm, supported 1,784,041 children during the crisis and helped 98,127 parents provide their children with basic needs.

With the support of donations, Save the Children has kept 75 of its health care facilities operating. Especially for displaced or refugee children, it is almost impossible to practice social distancing and sanitary precautions, thus increasing the risk of spreading the virus. To combat this, Save the Children is distributing sanitary supplies and providing health care to protect vulnerable children in Yemen.

– Mizuki Kai
Photo: Flickr

YemenThe State of Yemen has been embroiled in a civil conflict since the early days of its U.S. and Saudi-backed establishment in 1990. Throughout the following two decades, various political and religious groups vied for power against the rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh. This power was mainly secured through a state of military patronage – meaning that his rule was “legitimized” by military prowess and a persistent framing of political and economic issues as the domain of military families.

As a result of local and international criticism of the ruler’s human rights violations, Arab Spring protests brought about a transition of power to his Vice-President, Abed Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi. It was during this time of instability that the modern crises began to unfold.

The main actors in the modern conflict, as of 2014, are Hadi’s government (backed by Saudi and the U.S.), Houthi Shi’a rebels (backed by Iran), and Al-Qaida (supported by some disillusioned supporters of Saleh). The ensuing conflict has been marked by Saudi and Iranian proxy-interference and a seemingly hopeless humanitarian situation.

Prior to the establishment of the Yemeni Arab Republic in 1990, the country was already the regions most impoverished. Water was scarce, reliance on foreign imports high and the governance constantly challenged. Now, after four years of conflict, the hope of a speedy reconstruction process has been lost and the civilian casualties are catastrophic. The U.N. humanitarian aid official in Yemen has confirmed that the number of civilian casualties has risen to over 10,000.

Currently, four out of five Yemenis – a population of 25 million – are in need of humanitarian assistance. These people face starvation, water pollution and rapid spread of disease, to say nothing of the daily toll of war on their psyche and community affiliations. Yet, the most horrific reality of this situation is the lack of humanitarian aid to Yemen that has been provided, mainly due to the unyielding air raids and mortar attacks which specifically target civilians.

Humanitarian Aid to Yemen

In a more forgiving context, the goal would be to provide food, medicine and various structural support upon the brokerage of a ceasefire. Unfortunately, to date, the success of such a deal in Yemen has been unattainable.

In 2017, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated Yemen’s needed aid at $2.3 billion. In the same year, the largest financial contributor to the crisis, the U.S. government, provided around 23 percent of the needed aid. The U.S. contribution was followed by aid from Saudi Arabi and the United Arab Emirates. In total, the amount of aid pledged by the international community covers 56 percent of the need.

Of the aid provided, 33.7 percent has been allocated to cover food security programs and 15.3 percent has been put towards health assistance. The main recipients of this funding are the World Food Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization, and the Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates.

The Discrepancy in Humanitarian aid to Yemen

With nearly half of all humanitarian aid to Yemen going to food and health programs, the amount remaining for other necessities – which affect the long-term viability of the country’s survival – are severely underfunded.

Currently, only one percent of aid is being given to Save the Children, an international humanitarian organization that works to ensure the protection of Children’s Human Rights. Furthermore, only .2 percent has been allotted to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which typically works on issues of reproductive rights and safety and ending female genital mutilation.

At the moment, the provision of food and health aid is most urgent, however, it is vital to ensure further funding for programs that will help Yemen rebuild after the crisis.

 – Katarina Schrag

Photo: Flickr