Cordaid starts emergency aid in Yemen

August 8, 2018

8.4 million people in Yemen are at risk of starvation, making it the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in the eyes of the UN’s Secretary General. Despite severe difficulties in accessing the conflict-torn country, Cordaid is now offering emergency assistance to war victims in cooperation with a local partner organization.


Despite the scale of the crisis, with up to 22 million people in need of aid and protection, media coverage has been minimal. It is largely a forgotten crisis. Journalists are blocked from entering the country at the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula. Reliable information about the conflict is limited.

Even before the recent conflict, many Yemenis struggled to keep their heads above water. After the Arab Spring there was a change of power. Armed groups took advantage of the ensuing instability to gain ground.

'Currently we mainly concentrate on saving lives. But as soon as the situation improves, we’d like to assist people to pick up their lives again.' Neal Deles, Cordaid emergency aid coordinator

In early 2015, the militant Islamic Houthi movement took control of Sanaa, the capital. Together with the official Yemeni government, neighboring country Saudi Arabia wages an all-out war against the Houthis. The poorest parts of the population are badly hit. They are the ones who suffer most, not in the least because aid organizations are prevented from entering the country. The coalition led by Saudi Arabia has firmly locked the country, among other things to prevent the supply of weapons for the Houthis from Iran.


Despite many challenges, Cordaid has succeeded in finding a local aid organization to work with and to provide assistance to 770 families who are among the hardest hit populations. This week the Yamaan Foundation will start distributing food vouchers, money for shelter and hygiene kits.

“It’s our approach to support and strengthen local organizations,” says Neal Deles, Cordaid emergency aid coordinator. Deles will soon travel to Jordan to meet Yamaan Foundation staff and provide training on new forms of aid and safety for beneficiaries.


Deles: “We work with food vouchers because it is proven to be effective. Not only for the people we help but for the entire community. Purchasing, storing and distributing food ourselves, is a very expensive logistical operation. By giving vouchers people can spend on the market or in stores, we stimulate the local economy. Everyone benefits. In addition, it gives people who fled the violence control over what they want to purchase. This is important. It gives a them a little bit of badly needed dignity and self-esteem.”

The ongoing conflict has created huge food shortages in Yemen. However, around the cities of Sanaa and Ibb there are still functioning markets. Deles: “It is very important that we keep those markets alive. Many displaced persons gather in these areas. This helps us to reach out to them and provide life-saving assistance.”

Deles emphasizes that this humanitarian effort is a first step that might be expanded in order to provide longer term support to Yemen’s war victims. “Hopefully, after this initial phase, we will raise more funds for our work in Yemen. The humanitarian needs are so vast. Currently we mainly concentrate on saving lives. But as soon as the situation improves, we’d like to assist people to pick up their lives again.”