Periscope: Yemen Humanitarian Crisis

Civil War Is Not Civil: Summary On The Situation in Yemen

Written By: Ernest Tan (19-E6)

Designed By: Jo Yeoul (19-A2)


How many of you know about the ‘worst humanitarian crisis of 2019’? Despite this situation being so dire, the Yemen Civil War has been dubbed a “forgotten war” (Sommerlad, 2018), due to a lack of attention to it. In this special segment on the Yemen Humanitarian Crisis, we document a short summary on the key details of this issue, so that Eunoians become informed and empowered global citizens. Do use the Universal Concepts (UC) to guide you. 


Close to entering its fourth year, the protracted Yemen Civil War has shown no signs of subsiding. Waged between the internationally-recognised Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi government and the Houthi armed movement in politically divided Yemen since 2015, this sectarian* struggle further escalated when a Saudi-led coalition started launching military offensives and air strikes against the Houthis (Sharp, 2018). Deplorably, this conflict has culminated in variegated* ramifications such as the displacement of civilians, loss of lives, poor health conditions and devastation of public infrastructure, necessitating humanitarian intervention (Sharp, 2018), constituting the ‘worst humanitarian crisis of 2019’ (United Nations News, 2019). 

Points of Contention

The Humanitarian Crisis (UC: Interdependence)

Why has this humanitarian crisis persisted? The dire ramifications that we see today – the sufferings of the Yemeni people – are inextricably linked to the conflict itself and the dynamics between the parties. Food scarcity, for example, is due largely to the economic crisis which has devalued the Yemeni Rial and caused the loss of livelihoods. As a result, many Yemenis could not afford food (Middle East Eye, 2018), as scarce as they already may be, due to the destruction of infrastructure. Blockades imposed at critical ports and points have also hindered humanitarian assistance, preventing the expeditious* delivery of aid (Oxfam International, 2017). This has led to a prevalence of cholera and malnutrition in Yemen (United Nations News, 2019).

Discussion: Must the civil war stop for the humanitarian crisis to end?

Ethics in Humanitarian Aid and Involvement (UC: Power and Influence)

The Saudi-led coalition has led numerous airstrikes in Yemen, contributing to the overall death toll and also damage of infrastructure. However, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both prominent members of the coalition, are also one of the biggest contributors to humanitarian aid for Yemen. While humanitarian aid is indeed a moral imperative and inevitably leads to more pervasive aid, some have questioned the ethical implications and the paradox of Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s humanitarian involvement, given their involvement in the conflict, believing that the assistance only serves to entrench their military and secure strategic interests through the control of Yemen’s key infrastructure (Rasmussen and al-Batati, 2019).

Discussion: Do you think that humanitarian intervention is always ethical? Why or why not?


For more in-depth reading about this issue, feel free to access the following links.

Rasmussen, S.E. and al-Batati, S. (2019). Saudi attempts to win over locals in Yemen stir anger. Wall Street Journal, Retrieved from

Sharp, J.M. (2018). Yemen: Civil War and Regional Intervention. Retrieved from

United Nations News (2019). Humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains the worst in the world, warns UN. Retrieved from

Sommerlad, J. (2018). Yemen Civil War: the facts about the world’s ‘forgotten war’. The Independent. Retrieved from

Middle East Eye (2018). Currency crisis: Yemenis live off leftovers as they wait for prices to drop. Retrieved from

Oxfam International (2017). Missiles and Food: Yemen’s man-made food security crisis. Retrieved from


Sectarian – caused by or feeling very strong support for the religious or political group that you are a member of, in a way that can cause problems with other groups

Variegated – marked by variety

Expeditious – quick

* Word definitions sourced from the Cambridge and Oxford Online Dictionaries



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