Extreme hunger on the rise in Yemen, one year from end of ceasefire

Published: 2nd October 2023

Over a third of the Yemeni population are facing extreme hunger, with rates of child malnutrition amongst the highest in the world. One year on from the expiration of the temporary peace agreement, Oxfam is calling on all sides of the conflict to strive for a sustainable and inclusive peace, and for cuts to the international aid effort to be reversed. 
Since war broke out in 2015, Yemen has suffered one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Over 21 million people —two thirds of the population— are in need of humanitarian assistance. The conflict has resulted in thousands of casualties, forced over four million Yemenis to flee their homes, and led to a collapse of the economy.  
A temporary peace was brokered in April 2022, bringing a glimmer of hope to millions of Yemenis, a 60 per cent reduction in casualties, and easier access to essential services. But the ceasefire expired in October 2022, and whilst an uneasy, de facto peace has largely held, political uncertainty has hampered the country’s recovery. 

The Yemeni economy —in both the north and the south— is in dire straits. Rounds of currency depreciation have been compounded by high levels of inflation. Food prices have more than doubled and many ordinary Yemenis can no longer afford to buy enough food to eat. 
Abdulwasea Mohammed, Oxfam in Yemen Advocacy, Campaigns and Media Manager, said: 

“The people of Yemen have endured over eight years of war and our women and children have suffered the most. 8.5 million children need humanitarian assistance. They face the daily threat of food shortages, diseases, displacement, and an acute lack of access to basic social services.
“It should be a source of great shame to our leaders and to the international community that we have children suffering because of what is an entirely man-made crisis.”
In recent months, popular protests have spread across the country as Yemenis have rallied against deteriorating living conditions. Many have marched under the banner: “bread, water, and power”. They have been routinely met with violence by the authorities. 
Despite the scale of need, the humanitarian effort in Yemen is severely underfunded. The health response is currently only seven per cent funded while the education response is just two percent funded. And the picture is set to get worse. The number of people facing crisis or emergency levels of hunger is forecast to increase by 20 percent. 2.2 million children under the age of five need treatment for acute malnutrition —one of the highest in the world. A recent survey showed that almost one third of families have gaps in their diets, and hardly ever consume foods like pulses, vegetables, fruit, dairy products, or meat. 
One shop owner in Aden told Oxfam how his customers are no longer able to afford the basics:
“I've been here for 50 years, and I know the people and how many children are in each home. It’s heartbreaking to see fathers buying a small bag of rice for a family of seven, or only four loaves of bread a day. Only the little ones get to eat three meals a day.’’

Yemen has also suffered the effects of climate change, with periods of drought and heavy rains destroying crops, homes, and livelihoods. More climate shocks look likely as the rainy season continues to test an infrastructure ill-equipped to cope with floods. 
Oxfam is calling on all sides to the conflict and the international community to renew their efforts to deliver a sustainable, inclusive peace and to rebuild the country. Payment of salaries, reopening vital roads, and a plan for rebuilding the economy must be central to any deal. 
Abdulwasea Mohammed said:
“Recent talks between the warring parties are welcomed, but what we need now is a redoubling of efforts and an inclusive and sustainable end to the conflict. Only then will Yemenis be able to rebuild their lives and hope of a better tomorrow.”

Notes to editors

Contact information

Frances Legg in the UK | flegg1@oxfam.org.uk+44 (0)7824 824 359 | (Mon/Wed)
Adele Walton in the UK | awalton1@oxfam.org.uk | +44 (0) 7767 919228 (Wed-Fri)
Annie Thériault in Peru | annie.theriault@oxfam.org | +51 936 307 990