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Yemeni Civil War: Over half UK population unaware of conflict as it reaches second anniversary

Human Appeal, one of the leading humanitarian aid NGOs working in Yemen, have released data showing that over half of the UK public are not aware there is a conflict in Yemen. Sunday March 19th will mark two years since the fighting began, but according to a YouGov poll, commissioned by Human Appeal, 51% of the public said they did not know that there was an ongoing internal conflict in Yemen.

The poll, which gave 2,171 people a list of 16 countries and asked the public to identify any that they are aware of being “currently involved in an ongoing armed conflict”.

Just under half (49%) of all UK adults are aware that Yemen is currently involved in an armed conflict, compared to over 4 in 5 (84%) UK adults who are aware that Syria is currently experiencing conflict.

Just over a third of those aged 18-24 (37%) of all UK adults are aware that Yemen is currently involved in ongoing armed conflict.

Othman Moqbel, the CEO of Greater Manchester based Human Appeal, said: “The crisis in Yemen has been forgotten about or ignored completely. We believe this is because that the conflict has not generated a huge number of refugees coming to Europe and there is the misperception amongst the public that it’s only a regional crisis. To treat what is currently happening in Yemen, and has been happening for two years, as something insignificant is turning a blind eye to the escalating humanitarian emergency.

“Over the past two years, 44,000 people have been killed or injured and more than 3 million have been displaced because of the conflict. This equates to 75 deaths or injuries every day. The UN estimate 18.8 million people are in need of humanitarian aid or protection out of a total population of 27.4 million.

“Food insecurity is high with an estimated 14 million people affected, about the same amount need safe drinking water and basic healthcare as only 45 per cent of health facilities are functioning.

“An estimated 1,000 children are dying every week from preventable diseases like diarrhoea, malnutrition and respiratory tract infections. Even before the war tens of thousands of Yemeni children were dying of preventable causes. According to the Ministry of Health, health services are collapsing and public hospitals are not able to provide sufficient care due to lack of financial resources and an increasing number of people in need due to the ongoing conflict.  Some eight million children are in need of basic healthcare.”

Humanitarian access remains a significant issue in light of security and bureaucratic obstacles. There is weak coverage of mobile companies making telecommunications difficult as a result of the destruction of telecommunication facilities through the conflict. Further, a number of proscribed organisations operate in Yemen so access is also impeded on this front.

On 10th March 2017 the UNHCR reported that intensified hostilities across western and central Yemen have forced more than 62,000 people from their homes within the last six weeks. Most of the displaced are in dire need of assistance and have found shelter in communal and public spaces, including schools and health facilities, whilst others are living in unfinished buildings or out in the open.

Mr Moqbel commented further, “The crisis in Yemen has however been severe long before 2015 when the situation escalated. Years of poverty, under development and conflict had already taken their toll with the Yemeni people being some of the most vulnerable in the world. The high numbers of internally displaced people (approx. 2.2 million), female headed households and children are disproportionately affected by the situation.”

Since the start of the conflict on March 19th 2011, Human Appeal has:

  • Provided food parcels to thousands of families (affected not just by the conflict but cyclone Chapala)
  • Provided clean water to 37,500 people
  • Conducted dengue fever prevention projects
  • Provided meat to 800 families
  • Provided blankets to 280 households
  • Provided clothing to 480 vulnerable children.

Speaking of Human Appeal’s future work in Yemen, Othman Moqbel said: “As well as continuing to provide emergency aid this year, Human Appeal are planning to support the Al Jumhori public hospital, who has seen the amount of patients grow uncontrollably since the start of the conflict, despite a lack of financial resources, fuel for generators, medical supplies or medicines. The hospital also currently lacks acceptable hygiene standards. We will be providing emergency assistance to hospitalised children and their mothers, including medicines, tests, hygiene and nutrition supplies. We will also be carrying out light rehabilitation and maintenance of the hospital.

“We are also looking into funding further health projects in Saada public hospital, providing regular meals and psychosocial support to schools and women empowerment programmes.”

Notes to Editors

Human Appeal (www.humanappeal.org.uk) is one of the UK’s fastest growing charities. With a presence in 25 countries, spanning Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, we help in times of crisis and we deliver sustainable development programmes in the world’s poorest nations.

Othman Moqbel and other Human Appeal representatives are available for interview. For more information contact Charles Lawley on 07535 415 060 or [email protected]

The YouGov poll cited was commissioned by Human Appeal and the fieldwork conducted 14th – 15th March 2017. Total sample size was 2171 adults. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

For the following question, "ongoing armed conflict", was defined as a war either internally, or with another country, where there have been more than 200 deaths in the last 12 months (i.e. since March 2016). The question was “As far as you are aware, which, if any, of the following countries are currently involved in ongoing armed conflict? (Please select all that apply)”.


  • Syria 84%
  • Afghanistan 67%
  • Iraq 66%
  • Somalia 54%
  • Yemen 49%
  • Libya 45%>
  • Turkey 32%
  • Pakistan 25%
  • Lebanon 23%
  • Saudi Arabia 17%
  • Myanmar 15%
  • Kenya 13%
  • Ghana 8%
  • India 8%
  • Qatar 5%
  • None of these 2%
  • Don’t know 8%
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