After years of war, families in Yemen struggle for survival

Crisis In Yemen - Action Against Hunger

Children collecting water from a water point. Photo: Florian Seriex for Action Against Hunger, Yemen.

In Yemen, years of conflict have taken a devastating toll on children and families. The conflict has contributed to the collapse of the economy and basic services and is pushing nearly every district in the country into extreme or crisis levels of food insecurity.

Action Against Hunger has been active in Yemen since 2012. Despite worsening conditions, our teams are working to reach children and families in need amid massive internal displacement, the collapse of the economy and basic services, and a growing hunger crisis.
Here, we look back on some of the families our teams have reached.

“My wife and I left to save our lives and those of our children”

Ahmed - Conflict in Yemen Action Against Hunger
Ahmed and his family in front of the shelter he built. Photo: Action Against Hunger, Yemen.

Ahmed, a mechanic and father of six, was forced to flee his home in the Al-Mukka district in order to keep his family safe from harm. “All we could hear were loud explosions close to our village. The fighting was getting closer to us and, every night, my wife and I found it more and more difficult to get our children to go to sleep. They were petrified by the sounds of exploding shells. Sometimes, we turned on the radio to take their minds off what was happening around us or we listened to music on the phone. Other nights, we told them stories and tales from long ago. All of this comforted them and helped them forget the situation.”

Hundreds of members of his community made the same heartbreaking choice to flee their homes. “My wife and I left to save our lives and those of our children,” he says.

“We, as children, had to take care of ourselves because we had no parents to do it for us.”

Crisis In Yemen - Action Against Hunger
Osama and his siblings. Photo: Action Against Hunger, Yemen.

Osama was not yet a teenager when his parents died, leaving him alone with his younger siblings.

“One aunt took us in, and then married and left. We went to live with another aunt, but she too left to look after our grandmother, who lives in a different town. At this time, we were living in Hamili. When fighting reached this town, we fled to Al-Garrahi to stay with our grandfather. But we do not have a lot to live on. My grandfather also takes care of one of my uncles, who has cancer and whose medical treatment is very expensive. We, as children, had to take care of ourselves because we had no parents to do it for us.”

“At first, we received food aid, but we had to sell some of it to buy other things and pay the rent. Right now, we are receiving some essential supplies and direct financial aid, which lets us be more independent and meet our needs. I want to say thank you for all the efforts you are making to help displaced people.”

“They could not save my wife or the baby”

Hasan - conflict in Yemen Action Against HUnger
Photo: Hasan and his children in front of the shack he built. Action Against Hunger.

Before the war began, Hasan and his wife Sumaya lived with their children in the town of Mukhaa. Hasan sold vegetables in a grocery store, and Sumaya cared for their home and their children. When conflict reached their village, they left their home behind to stay with relatives a few miles away.

The conflict in Yemen has caused an extreme shortage of food, fuel, and medicines. Hospitals and health centers are completely dependent on generators to operate medical machines and provide services. Frequent power losses and lack of supplies and staff means very low quality of care in many places—too often resulting in tragedy for patients and their families.

“Sumaya always gave birth at home, but when she was nine months pregnant, I took her to a healthcare center because there seemed to be something wrong with the baby,” said Hasan. “There was not enough specialized medical staff and there were several power cuts during the birth. They could not save her or the baby.”

A recent United Nations report paints a dire picture of the situation in Yemen. “This latest analysis shows what aid-workers have known for some time: Yemen is going backwards and the threat of famine once again looms large,” says Jon Cunliffe, Middle East Regional Director for Action Against Hunger. “Hunger levels are exploding, conflict is intensifying, and unkept financial promises mean that life-saving services are being cut, despite the overwhelming need.”

Please consider supporting Action Against Hunger’s work in Yemen with a donation.