Spotlight on Yemen's Forgotten War and Humanitarian Disaster: Preventing the Next Syrian Refugee Crisis

CIGI Paper No. 97

March 23, 2016

Yemen’s humanitarian situation is arguably the worst humanitarian crisis in the world and the world is looking the other way. The United Nations reports that Yemen has more people — 21.2 million — in need of humanitarian aid than any other country including Syria. Yemen is in the midst of a civil war and reports of human rights violations are frequent. Millions are on the brink of famine, the country’s health system has collapsed and thousands of civilians have been killed or injured by fighting.

International attention and aid funding are desperately needed and could be critical to helping forestall a Yemeni refugee crisis before it begins. However, the crisis in Yemen has been largely under-reported and overshadowed by other conflicts such as Syria. International donors in 2015 provided only half of the estimated US$1.6 billion dollars that the United Nations requested for Yemen, and the window for preventative action is closing. The global community has spent billions reacting to the Syrian refugee crisis. Unless donors act now to address the severity of Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, the cost — both human and financial — will soar much higher.

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