In early 2024, Yemen finds itself at a crossroads. Nine years since the escalation of the current conflict and over a year since the expiry of the truce between the parties, hope remains that a peaceful settlement of the conflict is in reach. However, recent regional conflict dynamics have introduced additional risks.
Humanitarian needs will remain high for years to come. Yemen continues to face a complex protection crisis driving humanitarian needs in the country. The crisis characterised by civilian casualties, protracted large scale displacement, marginalisation, and discriminatory norms continues to have a profound impact on the people across the country, including contributing to negative coping mechanisms. In areas of reduced hostilities with improved stability and security, the effects of the prolonged crisis persist. Severe deterioration of economic conditions, extensive damaged civilian infrastructure and the collapse of basic services are key drivers of large-scale vulnerabilities and needs countrywide. Accelerating economic deterioration has driven local grievances and rivalries. Children in particular carry psychological scars from years of violence and displacement.
Women face numerous risks, such as restricted access to reproductive health and services addressing gender-based violence (GBV). The higher prevalence of disabilities continues as one of the consequences of the conflict.
The truce period and its de facto continuation throughout 2023 set the stage for some slight improvements in humanitarian conditions, while localised, small-scale violence continued.
The sharp decrease in conflict-related casualties recorded in 2022 attributed to the truce continued throughout 2023, with nearly half (42 per cent) of casualties compared to 2022 and representing the lowest rates since monitoring began in 2018.1 Localised clashes in frontline areas particularly affected Ta’iz, Al Hodeidah, Marib, Al Jawf and al-Bayda.2 Front-line Ta'iz alone represented one in five civilian casualties across the country in 2023.3 Other positive trends attributed to the truce include reduced attacks on schools and hospitals in comparison to 2022. Fewer farms have also been impacted by armed violence this year, due to the overall decrease in frontline activity.4 However, violence and severe protection-related incidents in border areas were reported throughout the year, in Sa’dah along the Yemen-Saudi border. Sa’dah Governorate represented over a third (37 per cent) of civilian casualties in Yemen in 2023, all in Shada’a and Munbah districts. Border violence in western Sa’dah is taking a heavy toll on the civilian populations present in these areas. On average, in 2023, two civilians have been killed or injured every day on the western Sa’dah border. Migrants and refugees trying to cross into Saudi Arabia were involved in at least a quarter of all border casualty incidents.5 While the past two years have seen notable declines in civilian casualty numbers across a number of frontline governorates, including Ta’iz, Al Hodeidah, Marib and Ad Dale’, and although overall civilian casualty numbers are decreasing, civilian casualties on account of small arms fire (SAF) remains high. 2023 has seen the highest proportion of SAF casualties on CIMP records, with this year accounting for 24 per cent of the total countrywide casualty count. Compared to CIMP’s 2018, when just 3 per cent of civilian casualties were the result of SAF, last year, SAF accounted for 15 per cent of the casualties reported countrywide. Against a backdrop of a proliferation in access to arms and weak mechanisms for law and order, altercations are swift to escalate into shootings.
Yemen also remains one of the most contaminated countries globally by landmines and explosive remnants of war and has the third highest number of casualties stemming from these threats over the past ten years. Mine contamination is not only endangering the lives of civilians but also presents key obstacles to sustainable solutions including IDPs returning to their places of origin, integration, and settlement elsewhere.
The presence of mines further creates barriers to pursuing subsistence farming and other income generating activities.