During the last decades, tension and unrest prevailed and nourished in the Middle East, and Yemen’s case is no different. For the past 5 years, Yemen has witnessed some of the most brutal fights as they unfolded on its lands. The civil war has turned an already, poor country into a broken warzone. Moreover, as the years passed, the situation escalated to a humanitarian catastrophe.

Background on the Yemen war

The civil war initially started in 2014 when an armed group of Shiite rebels with links to Iran, called the Houthi, succeeded in taking control of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. The Shiite then demanded the formation of a new government along with other requests. However, the negotiation between the government and the insurgent group failed. Thus, in January 2015,  the rebels seized the presidential palace, which forced President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his government to resign.

However, only when Saudi Arabia launched a campaign of economic isolation and airstrikes, did the situation truly start to escalate in March 2015. The emirates also joined the coalition against the Houthi along with the U.S. logistical and intelligence support.

Inhumane Airstrikes

The UN’s Human Rights Watch documented and reported almost 90 unlawful Saudi-led coalition airstrikes on the Yemeni land. The attacks deliberately targeted civilians and civilian objects along with Yemeni fishing boats. The attacks destroyed and caused the inhalation of hospitals, school buses, markets, mosques, farms, bridges, factories, and detention centers.

Moreover, according to the Yemen Data Project, a total of 20,100 airstrikes were conducted since the war began. Hence, an average of 12 attacks a day. 

However, the deadliest airstrike was carried out in August 2019. The multiple airstrikes targeting a Houthi detention center resulted in the death and the wounding of at least 200 people. The UN also documented other naval forces attacks targeting civilian fishing boats. Thus, ending the life of 47 Yemeni fishermen, including seven children.

Children and Armed Conflict

Since the start of the war in September 2014, all parties involved have recruited children into their armed forces. A total number of 3,034 children are estimated to have been recruited throughout the war. Houthis are responsible for the recruitment of  1,940 child soldiers.

Moreover, In July, the UN secretary-general added Yemen to his annual “list of shame” due to the violations against children in armed conflict that took place during 2018. The list reported the death of more than 1100 kids.

Arbitrary Detentions, Torture, and Enforced Disappearances

Ever since the start of the war, every single party played a part in violating many human rights. Houthi forces, the Yemeni government, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and different UAE and Saudi-backed Yemeni armed groups have all unjustly detained adults and children. They were abducted,  abused, and held in poor conditions.

There are currently a total of 3,478 disappearance cases with no information on whether they are detained or killed. 

War casualties

The civil war has stained the country with its unlawful bright red color. Almost 230,000 died as a direct and indirect result of the fighting. Reports proved that hunger, disease, and the lack of health clinics and other infrastructure caused more death than the actual fighting. 

According to Moyer, every 11 minutes and 54 seconds, a child in Yemen dies. 

The war also caused the displacement of 4 million citizens. On the other hand, almost 70% of Yemeni citizens residing in Yemen live in extreme poverty.

Furthermore, not only did the war cost Yemen’s economy $89 bn, but it also reversed Yemen’s human development by 21 years.

State of the Yemeni civil war in 2020

Since the start of 2020, the odds are tipping in Houthi’s favor. The insurgent group succeeded in advancing on Marib, which is considered the last stronghold and economic lifeline of Yemen’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

fortunately, Due to the international pandemic crisis, all parties agreed to their first nationwide cease-fire. 

However, the cease-fire only resulted in a really fragile form of peace. In March 2020, The Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepted and destroyed three drones targeting Saudi Arabia. According to the Saudi-led Arab coalition report, the  Houthi rebels were behind those attacks.

As of MAY 4, 2020, Only 10 coronavirus infections cases were reported. However, the rapid spread of the virus is bound to lead the country into utter destruction. 

In brief, The ongoing crisis has torn Yemen apart. With no sign of light at the end of the tunnel, Yemeni citizens continue to live in a nightmare formed out of war, famine, and poverty. Moreover, with the looming threat of the COVID-19 spread, the uncertainty in Yemen continues to prevail. 


Al-Shamahi, Abubakr. “After Five Years of War in Yemen, Battles Continue to Rage.” News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 26 Mar. 2020, www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/years-war-yemen-battles-continue-rage-200325065948859.html.

James, bill. “Yemen Death Toll to Surpass 230,000 by End of 2019: UN Report.” Middle East Eye, 2019, www.middleeasteye.net/news/yemen-death-toll-surpass-230000-end-2019-un-report.

McKernan, Bethan. “Fighting Escalates in Yemen despite Coronavirus ‘Ceasefire’.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 14 Apr. 2020, www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/14/fighting-escalates-in-yemen-despite-coronavirus-ceasefire.

Roth, Kenneth. “World Report 2020: Rights Trends in Yemen.” Human Rights Watch, World Reports, 14 Jan. 2020, www.hrw.org/world-report/2020/country-chapters/yemen.

Todos, Amjad. “‘The Virus Is Now in Yemen,” and There’s Little Left in the War-Torn Country to Stop It.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 4 May 2020, www.cbsnews.com/news/yemen-war-coronavirus-little-left-to-stop-spread-of-covid-19-2020-05-04/.

“War in Yemen | Global Conflict Tracker.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, 2020, www.cfr.org/interactive/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/war-yemen.

“Yemen Crisis: Why Is There a War?” BBC News, BBC, 10 Feb. 2020, www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29319423.

“Yemen.” Crisis Group, International Crisis Group, 2019, www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/yemen.

Zaman, Amberin. “Coronavirus Cease-Fire Offers Pause in Yemen War.” Al, 27 Mar. 2020, www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/03/coronavirus-ceasefire-yemen-war-covid19-who-saudi-houthis.html.