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

Higher Education in YemenFor the past eight years, the civil war between the Saudi-led military coalition and Houthi rebels has plagued Yemen. More than half of the Yemeni population is below the poverty line, and women are most vulnerable with a 26.1% unemployment rate compared to the 12.3% of men. This ongoing conflict severely affects Yemeni citizens and students. As for higher education, the estimated 20% of Sana’a University students cannot afford to attend class without transportation and books, having to stay home instead.

Effects of War on Higher Education in Yemen

As the war escalates, universities lack funding, rendering attendance unaffordable for potential and current students. Around 100 universities have suffered damage from air strikes and bombings, as of 2018, and military forces are utilizing dozens more. Professors in public universities suffer from a 40% reduction in salary, resulting in a shortage of professors. Students face challenges with displacement and injuries sustained from the war, financial burden from lack of employment, increased living costs, and possible abduction into soldiering. Nevertheless, various organizations have come forward to offer funding and support for Yemeni students, lowering the cost of education and ensuring that future generations can access learning opportunities.

Organizations that Lower the Barriers to Higher Education in Yemen

  1. The Scholar Rescue Fund – The Institute of International Education initiated the Scholar Rescue Fund in 2002. It collaborates with universities worldwide to offer secure academic placements to Yemeni scholars. Universities across Europe, North America, Malaysia and nearby regions accommodate these placements, enabling students to actively engage in their studies using their native language, maintain connections with loved ones and establish relationships with colleagues and peers in Yemen. Since its launch, the Scholar Rescue Fund has supported 1,059 endangered and displaced scholars, providing assistance to 470 universities.                                                                                                                                               
  2. The Hadhramout Foundation – The non-profit foundation actively collaborates with universities globally and offers scholarships for higher education in Yemen. It also conducts language training programs and provides technical and vocational training opportunities, ensuring Yemeni students receive a comprehensive education. The Hadhramout Foundation has more than 1,859 alumni in its alumni club.
  3. Al-Khair Foundation – This Yemeni non-profit organization actively focuses on social development efforts throughout Yemen. The foundation implements development programs that specifically target education, humanitarian response and the improvement of livelihoods. Through these initiatives, the foundation significantly contributes to reducing the cost of education in Yemen. One of its notable endeavors includes funding more than 850 grants for marginalized Yemeni students, enabling them to attend universities and prioritizing inclusivity and equal access to education.
  4. Lavazza Foundation – In 2016, the Lavazza Foundation established the “Scholarships for Education of Young Yemenis” project, aiming to provide 22 scholarships to Yemeni students. The foundation actively strives to eliminate socioeconomic barriers that hinder educational access, empowering deserving students to pursue their academic aspirations. The project ensures an equal distribution of 50% female and 50% male scholars. All students receive material assistance, job search training and access to professional opportunities.
  5. EducationUSA – EducationUSA actively promotes studying in the U.S. by offering opportunities and information about more than 4,000 U.S. universities on behalf of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Moreover, Amideast facilitates the EducationUSA Competitive College Club (CCC), a program designed for Yemeni high school students. The CCC assists students in navigating U.S. college applications, securing scholarships, and developing their academic and professional resumes. Notably, the program is free of charge.

Looking Ahead

The organizations mentioned above actively take steps to ease the financial burden on Yemeni students and guarantee access to education during the ongoing conflict. These organizations accomplished this through scholarships, temporary learning programs, academic placements and comprehensive educational initiatives, scoring significant progress in lowering the cost of higher education in Yemen. These efforts empower students, dismantle socioeconomic barriers and contribute to fostering a more educated and resilient Yemeni society.

– Clara Swart
Photo: Flickr