Compounding crisis

UN: Women and girls especially vulnerable in war-torn Yemen

A woman and a girl walk past a broken-down tank on a street in Yemen's southern port city of Aden September 27, 2015. (REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser)

Widespread fighting across Yemen between forces faithful to deposed President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadiin and Houthi rebels has produced one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world, leaving women and girls “the most vulnerable,” according to the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA).

Since March, when a Saudi-led coalition began bombing the Iranian-backed Houthi troops, over 5,600 people have been killed and over 32,000 casualties have been reported. As men join the fight, which now includes the presence of ISIS and al-Queda, women with no access to services for themselves or their children are left to manage households. Displacement and gender-based violence run rampant as poverty and hunger levels have skyrocketed. Including those displaced by earlier conflicts, at least 2.69 million people have been affected in the conflict so far.

“In Yemen, it is difficult to make a precise distinction between gender-based violence cases related to the ongoing conflict and the ones unrelated to the conflict,” said Ahlam Sofan, a UNFPA expert on gender issues. “There are indications that gender-based violence cases are taking place, like forced and child marriage, as well as domestic violence, psychological and emotional abuse, denial of resources, as well as rape and sexual assault.”

“Women and girls are the most vulnerable group in conflict-affected areas,” Sofan said.

The grim situation in Yemen was compounded this week by record-level rainfall from the nation’s first first tropical storm on record, Tropical Cyclone Chapala. In a country that typically receives only four inches of rain per year, forecasters predicted that Chapala would bring two to three times that amount in just one day. “The damage is enormous and we fear human losses,” Minister of Fisheries Fahd Kafain said.

Read the full story at UNFPA.

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