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Worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen triggers a €5 million boost in European assistance

National Yemen

Poor Yemeni child is looking for better future

National Yemen-European Commission – Press release

Brussels, 12 December 2011 – Concerned by the effects of persistent instability, drought and poverty on hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people in Yemen, the European Commission is today increasing its humanitarian funding with an additional €5 million. The decision brings the Commission’s 2011 humanitarian allocation for Yemen to €25 million and the total EU humanitarian funding to over €60 million.

Kristalina Georgieva, the European Union’s Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, said: “When I visited Yemen 11 months ago, the country was already on the brink of a humanitarian crisis. Since then the situation has worsened and hundreds of thousands have lost their homes, have too little to eat and are victims of violence. At a critical moment for the country and its people we are boosting our relief aid and we will continue our support to the most vulnerable Yemeni families notably through the provision of food and health care. “.

The additional European funding will help to provide assistance and protection to people affected by armed clashes and political turmoil as well as victims of the ongoing food crisis and refugees from the Horn of Africa, mostly from Somalia.

It will finance food distribution, cash-for-work programmes and small-scale economic initiatives. Access to water and sanitation facilities will also be secured for around 300,000 people. In addition, regular development aid, concentrating on the population’s basic needs, continues to be disbursed to the country.

The agreement negotiated by Commissioner Georgieva in January 2011 between the Yemeni government and the main rebel group in the North, the Al Houthis, has helped humanitarian workers reach people caught in conflict and drought zones. But the ongoing violence and kidnappings of humanitarian workers continue to hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid in the Arab world’s poorest country. Commissioner Georgieva reiterates her call to all armed factions in Yemen to protect civilian lives – especially women and children – to allow access and the delivery of aid supplies and to let humanitarian workers bring relief to those who are most in need.


Yemen is deeply fragmented along tribal, economic and religious lines. This exacerbates an already difficult humanitarian situation threatened by extreme poverty, continuous armed clashes in north-west, south-west and east Yemen and political and social unrest since January 2011 throughout the country. In the last months, armed clashes in various parts of the country led to a rise in casualties (1,500 killed and 20,000 wounded) and to massive population displacement (more than 460,000 displaced, with about 144,000 newly internally displaced people in the last month).

Yemen is in a growing food crisis, exacerbated by drought and rising food prices. Malnutrition has reached severe levels in at least five governorates in the north and west of the country.

Yemen is also directly affected by the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa. A long-time destination for refugees from Somalia and Ethiopia, Yemen is seeing a surge of Somali arrivals across the Gulf of Aden. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Yemen currently hosts 220,000 refugees.

It is also prone to natural disasters with droughts, irregular rainfall, epidemics and flooding.  The effects of climate change are increasingly felt in the region.

Since 1994, the European Commission has provided over €53 million in humanitarian aid to help the most vulnerable in Yemen to survive conflicts, displacement and natural disasters.

To monitor the situation and to make sure that European assistance is efficiently distributed and adequate to the needs on the ground, the Commission maintains a humanitarian office in Sana’a. It was opened by Commissioner Georgieva in January 2011.