The civil war in Yemen has now been raging for a full five years with the complicated, multi actor conflict taking place across multiple geographical regions of the nation. In the north, Houthi rebels (supported by Iran) have been fighting the official government of Yemen, led by Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi and propped up by a Saudi Arabia led coalition.[i] In the South, the Hadi government has also been squaring up to the Southern Transitional Council (STC) backed by the UAE government, which has been demanding secession. To make matters worse, the South is also a traditional base of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of its strongest affiliates across the world.[ii]

Given an already run-down economy, the civil war has exacted punishing financial tolls on Yemen creating multiple humanitarian challenges. This includes a breakdown of the medical system, massive internal displacement, a death toll exceeding one million and outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and diphtheria, among others.[iii]

The arrival of COVID-19, exactly five years after the conflict began in March-April 2015, has only worsened the situation. To date, the virus has infected close to 20 million people and killed almost a million individuals globally, whilst its effects have decimated even prospering economies such as those of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.[iv] Unsurprisingly, its presence in Yemen has only exacerbated all the problems caused by the civil war. The brief will elaborate further on the effects of the pandemic on the Yemeni conflict.

[i] “Why Yemen is at war,” Reuters, April 27, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-explainer/why-yemen-is-at-war-idUSKCN22924D

[ii] Ibid

[iii] Lisa Schlein, “With Collapse of Health System, Yemen Struggles to Contain Disease Outbreaks”, VOA News, https://www.voanews.com/middle-east/collapse-health-system-yemen-struggles-contain-disease-outbreaks

[iv] “Gulf economies face a fight for survival as impact of coronavirus bites”, TRT World, May 13, 2020, https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/gulf-economies-face-a-fight-for-survival-as-impact-of-coronavirus-bites-36277