Yemen produces little of its own food and fuel, so Yemenis rely on imports to survive. When Saudi Arabia entered the Yemeni civil war in March 2015, it took strict control over access to Yemen's airports, seaports and border crossings. Food thus became a tool of war.
Near famine conditions developed in many parts of the country.
On Nov. 5, Saudi Arabia blocked all entries to Yemen following a Yemeni missile strike on Riyadh. It allowed some deliveries of medicine and food three weeks later, but that has done little to make up for two and a half years of imposed isolation. The de facto Saudi blockade was put in place to detect smuggled weapons. It has been selective, however, allowing unfettered access to ports held by the Saudi-led coalition in southern Yemen while preventing deliveries of food, fuel and medicine to ports in Yemen's rebel-held north.
UNICEF's Middle East director, Geert Cappelaere said on Sunday that 11 million Yemeni children are now in desperate need of humanitarian aid.
But how do we help them?
The World surveyed journalists, humanitarians and Yemeni citizens to come up with this short list of aid groups — some small and local, others huge and global — with proven track records of helping families in Yemen. Each in its own way is helping Yemenis survive what the United Nations calls the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
Humanitarians who live and work in Yemen
Fatik al-Rodaini has been called a hero by Yemenis. He collects funds, buys food from local vendors, and creates batches of food (the term of art is "baskets") for families who his group has identified as needy. These days there is no shortage of need.
Yemen Hope and Relief
Ahmad Algohbary rescues children suffering from severe malnutrition. Families request his help, and he uses donated funds to transport and house them for weeks while their children are treated at nutrition clinics in major Yemeni cities.
Organizations whose mission is to help Yemenis
This group, founded by a Yemeni American, provides assistance and resources to Yemeni people, regardless of their race, political affiliation, ancestry or religion, in order to positively change, and ultimately save, lives.
Yemen Our Home
The United Nations Development Project set up "Yemen Our Home" to help people outside Yemen, especially the Yemeni diaspora, support in-country projects.
Global NGOs that include service in Yemen
The International Committee of the Red Cross has a well-organized operation in country, efficiently delivering food, clean water and essential household items. This year alone, the ICRC reached 4 million people with basic aid. The group has been outspoken in its call for an end to hostilities, working with all sides of the conflict.
International Rescue Committee
The International Rescue Committee provides lifesaving emergency aid, clean water and medical care to millions of people in Yemen affected by violent conflict and a growing health crisis.
Since the outbreak of the conflict in March 2015, this Rome-based organization has provided humanitarian aid to thousands of displaced persons and refugees fleeing ongoing clashes and bombings. Some of the work they've done has been to provide medical and food assistance, support and organize school and professional classes for children and teenagers, and provide psychological care and protection for the most vulnerable women and children and for the victims of abuse and violence.
Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)
MSF has nearly 1,600 staff members across Yemen, including 82 staff members from abroad, working in 13 hospitals and supporting 18 more. MSF medical workers have shored up Yemen’s failed public health system and has been instrumental in combating the cholera epidemic that swept the country in 2017.
This global organization delivers essential aid in the north and south of Yemen, and has reached 1.4 million people across the frontlines since July 2015. Oxfam provides clean water and sanitation services, including in hard-to-reach areas of the country, by trucking in drinking water, repairing water systems and building latrines. It supports families with cash payments to buy food in the local market or livestock, and cash for work programs, so they get a possible source of income.
The United Nations Children’s Fund, in collaboration with local authorities, non-governmental organizations and community partners, is working in all parts of Yemen to respond to the needs of children throughout the country, providing food, shelter, sanitation, education and health services to help children survive and grow to their full potential. Surveys by UNICEF are an important gauge of the seriousness of Yemen's humanitarian crisis.
World Food Program
The World Food Program (WFP) began providing food aid to Yemenis long before the current war. Its logo can be seen on sacks of flour in homes throughout the country. As conditions have worsened, WFP has stepped up its efforts, more than doubling the number of people it served in Yemen, from 3.5 million in January to over 7 million in October. In addition, WFP reports on travel conditions throughout Yemen, shares space on its planes and trucks, and has a history of helping other organizations respond to humanitarian needs in Yemen.
Advocacy groups that work to end the war in Yemen
Friends Committee on National Legislation
The Friends Committee on National Legislation lobbies Congress and the Trump administration to advance peace, justice, opportunity and environmental stewardship. It has campaigned tirelessly to urge the US to withdraw its support from Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.
Mwatana Organization for Human Rights
This group is headquartered in the Yemeni capital Sanaa. Mwatana programs defend and protect human rights. Its researchers conduct field investigations to detect and stop human rights violations. The organization also attempts to provide support and justice for victims, to hold accountable those in violation of human rights, and to help craft legislation and policies that prevent such violations.
Yemen Peace Project
The US-based advocacy group Yemen Peace Project is dedicated to supporting Yemeni individuals and organizations working to create positive change; advancing peaceful, constructive US policies toward Yemen; defending the rights of Yemenis in the diaspora; and increasing understanding of Yemen in the wider world.
NOTE: This article was updated Friday, December 1 to include the World Food Program.