Background to a Crisis

The war in Yemen was sparked in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings of 2011, as the wave of anti-government protests that hit the Middle East region spread to Yemen. The country has a long history of internal division and dissatisfaction with ineffective government.

The protests led to a change in leadership, which prompted a period of optimism for many Yemenis. But continued failure to address the country’s core problems created deeper disillusionment, which descended into civil war.

There was widespread belief that one side in the conflict was backed by Iran, bent on destabilising the region and increasing its own influence. In 2015, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) responded by beginning airstrikes in support of the internationally-recognised government in Yemen.

After four years of persistent fighting the conflict is ever more bloody with attempts to reach a political settlement increasingly complex. This man-made humanitarian crisis is the worst in the world and has left 80% of Yemen’s men, women and children in desperate need of help.

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A child stands on the rubble of their house, which was hit by an artillery shell targeting the residential neighborhood of Al-Nisariya in the city of Taiz, with the rest of his toys
© Ahmed Basha, 2016

Yemen: Inside a Crisis

IWM North

17 May 2019 to 26 January 2020