Note this page is lifted from our report covering 2017,please see here for an up-to-date policy brief on the catastrophic situation in Yemen.
Since March 2015, ongoing airstrikes in Yemen by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and ground fighting between the Houthis and Yemeni government forces and their allies have targeted numerous civilian areas, oftentimes repeatedly. By the end of 2017, more than 55% of the country’s medical facilities had closed due to attacks and lack of staff, medical supplies, and funding. Widespread disruptions to health care access from ongoing conflict, attacks on medical facilities and personnel, and the systematic denial of lifesaving humanitarian aid have had devastating impacts on children’s health. Tens of thousands of civilians continued to suffer or die from preventable or easily treatable diseases. In 2017, a cholera epidemic wracked the country. Just as the cholera crisis began to ebb, diphtheria started to rise, and the country remained on the verge of famine for a second year.
In 2017, there were at least 23 attacks on health workers and facilities, two attacks on patients, and at least 76 incidents of denial of humanitarian access. The main perpetrators of attacks include the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, the Houthis, and Yemeni government forces; several incidents were also perpetrated by unidentified assailants.
The Saudi Arabia-led coalition carried out at least five attacks and denials of access, the Houthis at least three, Yemeni government authorities at least three, and unidentified assailants and others at least 12. However, denials of humanitarian access are particularly challenging to quantify. For example, in November, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition implemented a full blockade of all humanitarian and commercial supplies by land, sea, or air, which came after months of severe import restrictions that had pushed the country to the brink of famine. The coalition formally lifted the blockade by December, though it continued to impose a range of bureaucratic impediments (e.g., delaying or denying the issuance of visas to humanitarian workers) that significantly limited the import of food, fuel, medicine, and other humanitarian aid. By the end of the year, UN leaders, who had already designated Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, declared that the blockade imposed by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition made “an already catastrophic situation far worse.”
The number of incidents documented in 2017 is much smaller than in 2016; however, this is not an indicator of fewer attacks and denials of health care access, but rather the narrowing space for humanitarian and human rights organizations throughout the country. Publically available information was very limited in 2017 compared to the preceding year, yet the number of airstrikes increased. For example, in just the first six months of the year, there were more airstrikes in 2017 than in all of 2016.
ATTACKS AND DENIALS OCCURRED MOST FREQUENTLY IN TAIZ, SANAA, SAADA, AND HODEIDAH GOVERNORATES. AIRSTRIKES WERE THE MOST COMMON TYPE OF ATTACKS ON HEALTH FACILITIES, WITH AT LEAST FIVE ATTACKS OCCURRING. IN AT LEAST TWO INCIDENTS, UNIDENTIFIED ASSAILANTS FORCIBLY ENTERED MEDICAL FACILITIES. THREATS, INTIMIDATION, OR DETENTION OF STAFF WERE THE PREDOMINATE TYPES OF ATTACKS CARRIED OUT AGAINST HEALTH WORKERS. AT LEAST NINE HEALTH WORKERS WERE ARRESTED.
The Saudi Arabia-led coalition and the Houthis imposed multiple and varied forms of access constraints, including the total blockade imposed by the coalition in November, and ongoing bureaucratic access impediments and denials at checkpoints imposed by both parties. Parties to the conflict looted more than 900 units of humanitarian or medical supplies (e.g., humanitarian kits and nutritional supplements).
Tens of thousands of people were prevented from accessing health care as a result of these attacks and obstructions, which caused temporary closures of facilities or suspended humanitarian operations.
 Craig, Iona. “‘Only God can save us’: Yemeni children starve as aid is held at border.” The Guardian, November 12, 2017.https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/12/millions-on-brink-of-famin...
 Erickson, Amanda. “1 million people have contracted cholera in Yemen. You should be outraged.” The Washington Post, December 22, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/12/21/one-million....
 World Health Organization, World Food Programme, UNICEF. July 12, 2017. Press statement: UN leaders appeal for immediate lifting of humanitarian blockade in Yemen – lives of millions are at risk. https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/un-leaders-appeal-immediate-liftinghu....
 Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. July 12, 2017. In Yemen, 7 million people are on the brink of famine, FAO director-general warns. http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1013329/icode/.
 World Health Organization (WHO), World Food Programme, and UNICEF. November 16, 2017. Press statement: UN leaders appeal for immediate lifting of humanitarian blockade in Yemen – lives of millions are at risk. https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/un-leaders-appealimmediate-lifting-hu....
 Protection Cluster Yemen. August 2017. Protection cluster update: Yemen. https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/
 لوبقمل ينيمحلا داوف روتكدلا ةمالس يلع هللدمحلا سبع يف يبطلا ءانيس نبا فصوتسم فادهتسا مت ثيح
مويلا حابص يدوعسلا ناودعلا فلاحت ناريط لبق نم هل عباتلا ” Facebook, October 16, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/amaq2012/posts/1439183122864594.; Médecins Sans Frontières. December 6, 2017. Yemen: Intense fighting and blockade further reduces accessto healthcare. https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/yemen-intense-fighting-and-blockade-f... and other information not publicly available.
 Information not publicly available.
 Insecurity Insight. April 2017. The aid in danger monthly news brief. http://www.insecurityinsight.org/aidindanger/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/... and other information not publicly available.
 Insecurity Insight. November 2017. The aid in danger monthly news brief. http://www.insecurityinsight.org/aidindanger/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/....