Press release

Medair Begins Provision of Emergency Assistance in Yemen

18 May 2020  /  Jordan

Abigail Drane

Regional Communications Manager – Middle East
+962 (0) 79954 5525

With 24 million Yemeni people – some 80% of the population – now requiring some form of humanitarian assistance or psychosocial support*, Medair has launched an emergency response programme providing nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene services and health care to vulnerable communities in Yemen.

The escalation of civil war since 2015 plunged Yemen into a severe economic collapse, resulting in the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Over half of the country’s health clinics aren’t functional, most with minimal equipment or supplies, leaving 14 million Yemeni’s unable to access basic health care services. The same number of people don’t have access to clean water or adequate sanitation facilities like toilets and handwashing facilities, a combination which resulted in a cholera outbreak in 2017 with over one million suspected cases.

 “The scale of the needs in Yemen are so large it can seem overwhelming to imagine the suffering at an individual level; malnourished mothers and young children with insufficient food to eat, the ever-present risk of cholera and other diseases, and now, the threat of Covid-19” says Matthijs Brouwer, Medair’s Country Director in Yemen. “In Yemen, when people don’t receive urgent assistance, it can swiftly become a matter of life and death. Together, as a humanitarian community, we can and we must make a difference for many of these families, and this is why Medair has launched a Yemen emergency response programme”.

Medair’s emergency response programme is reaching vulnerable communities, often located in remote districts where few other organisations work. Through health care and nutrition services, health facilities which lack supplies and equipment are being restocked, health care staff are trained and teams of volunteers are sent out to find and refer malnourished mothers and young children to receive life-saving treatment at Medair-supported clinics.  Meanwhile Medair is installing safe drinking water, handwashing and sanitation facilities at the supported health clinics to lessen the risk of disease transmission, while preparing for emergency water and sanitation responses in communities which may face sudden water borne disease outbreaks, such as cholera.

While there have been relatively few confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Yemen so far, any increase in number will soon put massive strain on an already fragile health system which is not equipped to cope with such a pandemic. Medair has swiftly adapted programming to ensure preventative awareness messages about infection prevention and control are disseminated throughout all project activities, and is distributing Personal Protective Equipment to health workers in Medair-supported health clinics.

“As a greater Covid-19 outbreak looms on the horizon, the Yemeni people, who have been through so much already, now face a crisis within a crisis”. says Brouwer. “As we are confronted daily with the needs on the ground, we are under no illusion that the Yemeni people will continue to require ongoing support from the humanitarian community to meet their basic needs for years to come”.


Medair is an international humanitarian NGO that provides emergency relief and recovery services to families made vulnerable by natural disasters, conflicts, and other crises. Medair is responding to emergencies in Yemen with health and nutrition services, and water, sanitation, and hygiene projects.

©Ingrid Prestetun/NRC