Learn more about specific causes in Yemen that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentThe most pressing environmental issues in Yemen are water scarcity, soil erosion, and desertification. Because of the country’s oil industry and lack of sewage treatment plants, water pollution is becoming a major issue.1 Agricultural clearing and overgrazing from livestock have decreased forestation which helps to curb soil erosion. Because of rising sea levels, wetlands and water sources are disappearing, and the unplanned expansion of urban areas is destroying fertile land and furthering desertification.2
FamilyMost marriages in Yemen are arranged, and it is not uncommon for bride prices to be paid for girls who are often under the age of 18.1 In addition, Shari’a law is commonly followed and allows a man to marry up to four wives. The average woman gives birth to four children which makes households large.1 Women do not have equal rights in the household, are expected to submit to their male counterparts, and are not given equal rights in divorce cases. Domestic abuse and female genital mutilation is rampant and legal in most cases.2 In 2017, 70% of people were in dire need of humanitarian assistance, which forced some families to give up children or starve other members of the family.3
Human RightsThe government does not respect freedom of press, speech, or assembly, and those who attempt to spread oppositional views can be subject to arrest.1 Often, international aid and imports are blocked from entering the country, civilians are targeted, and humanitarian workers are subject to abuse by both the government regime and rebel groups.2 The country has swiftly declined into a very volatile humanitarian crisis with a severe food shortage.2 Additionally, women and girls continue to face oppression and discrimination regarding marriage and education. Many are abused at home, and laws give lenient sentences for honor killings.1
EducationAs a result of the conflict in Yemen, 2 million children are out of school, and over 3,600 schools have been closed since 2014.1 There is a lack of teachers, as many public schools receive no funding from the government, and children also must, in some cases, buy their own textbooks and chairs.2 Even before violence escalated, less than 60% of children finished primary school, and the literacy rate sat at 70%.3
Poverty54% of Yemenis are impoverished and 40% unemployed.1 The deteriorating economy also has left 60% of the population food insecure. These numbers skyrocketed at the beginning of the civil war and have been getting worse with no solution in sight.2 The country’s poverty and unemployment crisis demand more resources than the government can provide, and many humanitarian groups wanting to provide assistance face challenges getting into the country.3
ReligionYemen is a Muslim country, and 99% of all Yemenis consider themselves to be followers of Islam.1 65% are Sunnis and 35% are Shia Muslims.1 Although Yemen is a muslim country and Shari’a law influences most laws, religious freedom is generally accepted, and there are small minorities of Jews, Christians, and Hindus.2 There are many restrictions on this freedom, however, and conversion from Islam is strictly forbidden.2
Clean WaterChronic lack of access to clean water is a significant problem in Yemen. Already one of the most water scarce countries in the world, over 50% of the population’s access to clean water has been cut off because of war.1 People must rely on untreated water supplies and unprotected well water which is causing many to suffer from life threatening health conditions.2 Only 53% have access to improved sanitation infrastructure.3
EconomyYemen’s economy is in ruin as all exports have been halted since violence escalated in 2014. Prior to this, petroleum exports accounted for 25% of the nation’s GDP and approximately 65% of the government’s revenue.1 The economy is neither stable nor diversified because of its dependence on oil, and foreign investment is low since the economy is heavily institutionalized.1 After the outbreak of the civil war, the central bank system collapsed and can no longer support imports, currency, or foreign investments. In 2014, it was estimated that 30% of people were unemployed, but this number has likely risen since then.1
GovernmentThe government of Yemen is categorized as a self-proclaimed presidential republic, as well as a multiparty parliamentary democracy. However, since the beginning of the civil war in 2015, the country has been in political limbo. The most recent president was forced to resign and flee the country, leaving rebels in control of the capital city; however, the rebel government is not recognized as legitimate.1 The government is highly ineffective and unable to provide basic needs for citizens. Government corruption is endemic, and bribes, unlawful trials, and abuses of power are common.2
HealthThe Yemeni health care system remains underfunded and underdeveloped. The poor water supply and sanitation services caused a cholera outbreak in 2017 with over 100,000 diagnosed cases and hundreds of deaths.1 There is a shortage of medical supplies and doctors, and on average, three people share one hospital bed.1 Yemen’s infant mortality rate is high at 40 deaths per 1,000 live births; the maternal mortality rate is also alarming at 200 deaths per 100,000 births.2 The average life expectancy in Yemen is 66 years.2
ChildrenThe children of Yemen face violence, poverty, and severe health concerns. One of the most problematic aspects of Yemeni society is child marriage. 9% of girls in Yemen marry before age 15 and 36% by age 18, and some girls in rural areas marry as young as eight.1 These child marriage practices undermine development goals, interrupt education, jeopardize women’s health, and increase the risk of domestic abuse. Yemen does not have legal definitions for children or minors, so there are few legal protections offered to them.2 Due to the war, it is estimated that in 2017 a child under five died every 10 minutes from preventable causes.2
AnimalsMany of the animals that used to roam Yemen’s desert like lions, panthers, and antelope have been driven out because of urbanization.1 However, there are still many thriving animal species like baboons, fox, lobsters, shrimp, and sharks.1 Over 250 animals have died in zoos due to starvation as a side effect of the devastating war.2
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