Humanitarian Catastrophe Looms in Yemen with Over 3.3 Million Displaced Since Crisis Began

Yemen - Yemen has become the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. In total, 18.8 million people need humanitarian or protection assistance. Since 2015, of the 3.3 million people who have been forced to flee their homes to seek safety, two million remain displaced and nearly 1.3 million have returned to the governorates they originated from. With no end in sight for the conflict, displacement is set to continue to increase.

Today (25 April), the United Nations and the governments of Switzerland and Sweden host a High-level Pledging Event in Geneva, Switzerland, for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen. Laura Thompson, the Deputy Director General of the UN Migration Agency, is attending this event.

“We cannot close our eyes to the mobility dimensions of this crisis. IOM has, since the escalation of violence in 2015, scaled up its response in Yemen to assist displaced populations and host communities,” said Ambassador Thompson. “In 2017, IOM is committed to doing more and will continue to deliver life-saving humanitarian aid, with a specific focus on the immediate and longer-term needs of migrants, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the conflict and natural disaster affected communities in Yemen,” she continued.

Years of poverty, underdevelopment, environmental decline, intermittent conflict, and weak rule of law – including widespread violations of human rights – have contributed to over five years of crisis. The breakdown of basic services and institutions, such as hospitals, galloping poverty, environmental decline and collapse of the agricultural sector have all further compounded the situation. The conflict and its economic consequences are also driving a food crisis. Over 17 million people are currently food insecure, of whom 6.8 million require immediate food assistance.

The crisis in Yemen is not only characterized by conflict but also by natural disaster-induced large-scale displacement and complex external migration flows and mobility patterns.

Yemen has a complex migratory status, as a country of origin, transit, and destination. Regular migration flows between the Horn of Africa and Yemen have surged, with 10,000 migrants entering the country each month, as a result of the complex realities of political and economic dynamics in the region. The number of migrants has overwhelmed available resources. In addition to those staying in Yemen, many migrants transit under alarming conditions through war-torn Yemen to Saudi Arabia in search of work, and are often victims of smuggling rings and other criminal networks.

The co-hosts and participants in the High-Level Pledging Event aim to avert a humanitarian catastrophe by raising USD 2.1 billion needed to deliver crucial food, nutrition, health and other lifesaving assistance in Yemen.

As part of the inter-agency humanitarian response plan, IOM is seeking USD 76.3 million in funding to carry out migrant assistance and protection, child protection, shelter support, water and sanitation activities, health and mental health support, food assistance, displacement tracking, efforts to combat gender-based violence and victim support and early recovery activities. IOM has the highest coverage of any UN organization in Yemen with operations in 20 of the 22 governorates and over 600 staff. Read IOM’s strategy for Yemen 2017-2018 here.

“We therefore commit and call on partners to unite behind a holistic and robust humanitarian response; for governments to support and commit to political dialogue towards ending this crisis, and for the parties to the conflict to facilitate immediate, timely and unimpeded humanitarian access,” continued Ambassador Thompson. “More needs to be done before the situation in Yemen reaches a point of no return,” she concluded.                     

For further information, please contact Laurent de Boeck, IOM Yemen, Tel: +967 736 777 915, Email: or Olivia Headon at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 79 403 53 65, Email: