The largest humanitarian crisis

The largest humanitarian crisis

by admin |June 29, 2020 | Blogs

The conflict between the North and the South has led to a civil war in Yemen. As a result of the Yemeni Civil War the country is currently in the midst of the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. In the recent years the Yemenis have seen everything, from famine to airstrikes, from epidemics to riots. It is estimated that almost 17 million people will be affected by the famine.

The crisis in Yemen was the result of the war caused by the difference of opinion between the Houthis and the Hadi government supporters. Houthis, which were backed by the supporters of the first President of Yemen, Saleh, took over the capital Sana’a and led riots and violent protests in the North, while, the Hadi supporters took over the South including the former Southern capital Aden. Soon things started to go downhill fast.


Waste management is a part of a civilized society and shows just how active the government is. But, with no proper government order or a formal waste management system, the country is in shambles. Some would think talking about waste management while the citizens of the country are dying without food or clean water is meaningless and a waste of time. But the effects of an improper waste disposal system leads to innumerable diseases and other problems that can worsen the conditions of a region.

Apart from the war itself, the Yemenis are suffering from malnutrition. Parents have neither the money, nor the resources to feed their children. According to UNICEF, 2.2 million children in the country suffer from acute malnutrition and 462,000 from severe acute malnutrition (data from 2017). Further, Yemen has also seen a Cholera outbreak since 2016 due to the war and lack of health services such as vaccination. With over 2.2 million cases and 3,800 deaths, the outbreak has only put fuel to the fire and the recent coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating the problem.


In a country where the basic health services have collapsed, an improper waste disposal will only make things worse (and it already has). Lack of electricity in the capital Sana’a forced the only efficiently operating medical waste treatment facility to shut down. Moreover, manpower in the waste management sector decreased because of the reduced flow of salary. Lack of fuel and electricity made it practically impossible for people to repair automobiles and operate machinery. Blockades and sensitive areas further restricted them from collection and disposal.


Waste accumulation, such as in unlined landfills in Yemen, can cause many diseases not only to the population but to the environment as well.

  1. Health

Children are more vulnerable to toxic pollutants released from garbage pile-ups. Direct contact can cause infections, mostly of the skin, whereas indirect contact can cause vector-borne diseases. Toxic medical waste causes several diseases including Hepatitis B and C. Collection of waste from landfills by rag-pickers can cause injury-induced infections and other diseases. Food and chemical poisoning can also be an effect since many Yemenites must search for food at such landfills due to the lack of money and resources.

  • Environment

Further, accumulated waste can indirectly affect humans by infecting the surrounding environment. Leachate from unlined landfills causes groundwater contamination, making the water non-potable. According to the United Nations, 2/3rd of the Yemenis do not have access to clean potable water. Methane gas, along with CO2, is a major effluent released from garbage sites that degrades the air quality. Any animals and vegetation in the surrounding areas can either be affected by catching and spreading diseases or through ingesting toxic substances and passing them on through their food chain.

Other than garbage sites and landfills, Yemen also faces the problems that arise due to construction and demolition debris. Debris due to the bombings and airstrikes has increased in cities such as Sana’a. It is not only extremely difficult to deal with such heavy and bulky waste material without the appropriate facilities, it’s also a possible cause of health risks. These waste are usually contaminated with domestic material, waste and chemicals.

The United Nations has been working tirelessly to control the “shocking” humanitarian crisis in Yemen, as described by the UN Aid chief. A formal, efficient and large-scale waste management system is required in Yemen to reduce the amount of toxic waste and help the frightful conditions of the crisis in the country.


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