Yemen’s Humanitarian Disaster: Halting the Famine Threat


Only several months after the Saudi-led military coalition waged its ongoing campaign against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in March 2015, the United Nations began issuing warnings about famine. Today, millions of Yemenis are on the brink of famine, with about half a million suffering from a cholera outbreak. This paper analyzes the causes of Yemen’s humanitarian catastrophe and offers the Trump administration recommendations for helping the impoverished Arab state avoid a famine.

Key Points

  • All major parties fighting in the Yemeni civil war bear varying degrees of responsibility for the country’s humanitarian crisis.
  • The Trump administration’s policies vis-à-vis the Middle East have led to more support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen, compared to the Obama administration.
  • Without a cease-fire, there is virtually no hope for improving Yemen’s worsening humanitarian crisis.
  • Al-Qaeda and Islamic State have exploited Yemen’s chaotic violence in recent years, and the spread of disease and famine throughout the country will likely benefit such extremists.
  • The United States should pursue a negotiated cease-fire to allow for humanitarian access and aid.

Read the full Policy Focus here.