A glimmer of hope for an end to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis


A military intervention was launched by Saudi Arabia in 2015, leading a coalition of nine African and Middle East countries, in response to calls from Yemen for military support following attacks by Houthi rebels.

The intervention was ratified by the UN and soon after began a bombing campaign, a naval blockade and the deployment of ground forces.

The Saudi-led coalition’s attacks is seen by many in the world as a proxy-war with Iran, who have supported the Houthis.

The United States has also provided intelligence and logistical support, including aerial refuelling and search-and-rescue for downed coalition pilots. It also accelerated weapons sales and the US and Britain have deployed their military personnel in the command and control centre responsible for Saudi-led air strikes.

The war has received widespread criticism and had a dramatic worsening effect on the humanitarian situation, that reached the level of a “humanitarian disaster”. The UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen and Human Rights Watch said that air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition on Saada city in Yemen were in breach of international law.

Human rights groups repeatedly blamed the Saudi-led military coalition for killing civilians and destroying health centres and other infrastructure with airstrikes.

As many as 78 per cent, or 20 million, of the Yemeni population in urgent need of food, water and medical aid.


As of 10 December 2015, more than 2,500,000 people had been internally displaced by the fighting. Many countries evacuated more than 23,000 foreign citizens from Yemen. More than 1,000,000 people fled Yemen for Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Oman.

The war has caused a humanitarian crisis, including a famine which has threatened 13 million people, as well as an outbreak of cholera which has infected an estimated 1.2 million.

In November 2018, UNICEF described Yemen as “a living hell for children” saying that every 10 minutes a child is dying due to preventable diseases as a result of the war.

More than 85,000 children under age five may have died of starvation.