In 2018 the cost of a food basket in Yemen increased by 60% - average food prices are now 150% higher than before the conflict. 67% of people cannot reliably access or afford enough food.

The food crisis is an entirely man-made situation and both sides of the conflict have been accused of using access to food as a weapon of war.

Yemen imports almost all of its basic food supplies and the cost of importing food has soared. With restrictions imposed on the country’s main ports by the Saudi Arabia/UAE-led coalition, the Houthis being accused of seizing aid and a currency which has collapsed in value, the situation is perilous for many Yemenis.

Yemen: Inside a Crisis at IWM North explores how a perfect storm of economic, political and conflict related issues has tipped the fragile nation into an economic tailspin that has far reaching consequences for its people.

'People simply cannot afford to buy the food'

Journalist Iona Craig, the lead advisor for the exhibition, lived and worked in Yemen between 2010 and 2015. She still visits the country to report on the crisis.

‘This is an economic collapse that means that people simply cannot afford to buy the food that is sitting in the markets. Yemen always imported the majority of its food because it is such a dry country and there is such little water and so those prices are very much based on the international exchange rate.’

Economic collapse has meant that many people are unemployed or in work but not being paid their usual salary, making it hard to purchase essentials.  

‘I’ve been into markets in Hodeidah on the west coast in Lahij in the south, in Sanaa in the north, and you will see food, rice and beans, sitting in those markets, you will see fresh fruit and vegetables available but you’ll see very few customers. And when you do see them, and you speak to them, they’ll be buying maybe a tenth of the amount of food they would have been able to buy before the conflict because of that inflation problem. And the valuation of the Yemeni rial has reduced so much, it just doesn’t buy people the food that they need to feed their families,’ Iona says. 

'The need is tremendous'

Video: Produced by Care International.

'The need is tremendous'

Lina Al‐Safi is the Education and Youth Empowerment Coordinator at CARE Yemen, an international charity attempting to respond to the humanitarian crisis. Here she explains the background to the situation in Yemen and the efforts being made to address it. 

Video produced by ICRC and used with permission.

For those who have been displaced by the conflict, everyday life can be difficult.

In this footage, filmed by the International Committee of the Red Cross in November 2018 at a camp for internally displaced people, Yemenis with few resources struggle to find shelter, water and food. 

The organisation says that for some families, a single flat bread shared between four can constitute the daily meal. 

Yemen: Inside a Crisis is the UK’s first exhibition to address Yemen’s on-going conflict and humanitarian crisis. Showcasing around 50 objects and photographs, many of which have been exclusively sourced from Yemen for this exhibition.

This story features contributions from individuals and organisations independent of IWM. 


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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

Products in the 'unaffordable' vending machine
Contemporary conflict
Yemen: Price of War
Though the shop shelves are full, almost ten million people in Yemen are suffering from extreme hunger. Conflict has tipped the nation into an economic tailspin, destroyed livelihoods and driven food prices up beyond the reach of ordinary Yemenis.
Background to a crisis
Contemporary conflict
Yemen: Background to a Crisis
After four years of persistent fighting the conflict in Yemen is ever more bloody with attempts to reach a political settlement increasingly complex. This man-made humanitarian crisis is the worst in the world.