Humanitarian Action for Children 2020 – Yemen
Nearly five years after the start of the conflict, Yemen remains the largest emergency globally, with 24 million people out of the population of 30.5 million in need of humanitarian assistance. The conflict has left 3.6 million people, including 2 million children, internally displaced, and at least 500,000 public sector workers have been without salaries for three years. Humanitarian access to vulnerable populations remains severely constrained. Since August 2019, a new conflict in southern Yemen has led to rising food insecurity, poor sanitation and lack of safe water. The water supply and sanitation systems have been severely affected by the conflict. An estimated 12.6 million people are in acute need of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services and more than 17.8 million people require WASH assistance in general. Immunization coverage has stagnated at the national level, resulting in outbreaks of measles, diphtheria and other vaccine-preventable diseases, and leaving the population vulnerable to polio. Thirty-seven per cent of children under 1 year are not fully vaccinated and therefore at higher risk of vaccine-preventable diseases. More than 687,000 suspected cases of acute watery diarrhoea/cholera and 898 associated deaths were recorded in the first nine months of 2019. Children are bearing the brunt of the conflict: 2,000 children have been killed and 4,800 have been maimed since the conflict began; 2,700 boys have been recruited into armed forces and groups; and over 368,000 children under 5 years are suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM). The damage and closure of schools and hospitals are threatening children’s access to education and health services, rendering them vulnerable to serious protection concerns. At least 2 million children in Yemen are out of school. While an estimated 46 per cent of girls and 54 per cent of boys are enrolled in school, secondary-level girls are more likely to drop out due to security issues, lack of female teachers and the lack of appropriate WASH facilities.
UNICEF’s humanitarian strategy in Yemen is aligned with the Humanitarian Needs Overview, Humanitarian Response Plan and cluster and programme priorities. UNICEF leads the nutrition and WASH clusters, coleads the education cluster and the child protection sub-cluster, and provides dedicated full-time support to coordination and information management. Humanitarian operations in Yemen are decentralized through five field offices that manage local responses with partners. In 2020, health efforts will focus on strengthening systems, improving access to primary health care, as well as malnutrition management and disease outbreak response, including maintaining vaccination coverage. Emergency WASH interventions will be delivered alongside durable, cost-effective solutions that strengthen the resilience of local institutions and communities. Acute watery diarrhoea/cholera prevention and response – including oral cholera vaccination – will continue in high-risk areas. Vulnerable women and children will receive survivor assistance, resilience building and mine risk education. UNICEF will rehabilitate damaged schools, establish temporary learning spaces, provide learning kits and support school-based staff incentives. The Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting will engage with parties to the conflict to prevent and halt grave violations of children’s rights. UNICEF will pursue gendersensitive planning and provide partners with training on preventing sexual exploitation and abuse. Given the widening gender disparities and lack of equal access for women and men to economic and social opportunities – both of which are tied to the security and economic situations – in 2020, UNICEF will use a crosssectoral approach to leverage its existing programmes to mitigate, prevent and respond to gender-based violence. Poor and marginalized children and families will receive integrated social protection services. Working with partners, UNICEF will deliver life-saving supplies to areas impacted by armed violence through the inter-agency Rapid Response Mechanism.