How did it all start?
The latest chapter in Yemen’s civil war can be traced back to September 2014 when Houthi Shia rebels seized control of the capital Sana’a, forcing the President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee, and attempted to seize control of other parts of the country.
The precarious situation has been complicated by divisions within the security forces, with some remaining loyal to President Hadi’s predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh, and the presence of Al Qaida and Islamic State factions.
In March 2015, the Gulf Cooperation Council agreed to launch an offensive against the Houthis and Saudi Arabia has led airstrikes against rebel strongholds in Yemen.
With 16 million of its 24 million population already in dire need of humanitarian aid, the latest conflict has only deepened the crisis for Yemen’s suffering civilians.
According to the United Nations, more than 10 million Yemenis struggle to meet their basic food needs and an estimated 13.4 million lack access to safe drinking water. Malnutrition and disease are rife – mothers are 57 per cent more likely to die in childbirth than elsewhere in the Arab world – and 335,000 people were long term displaced even before the latest outbreak of civil conflict.
Infrastructure – including schools and medical centres - and telecommunications have been severely damaged or destroyed and the deteriorating situation in many parts of the country has been compounded by a breakdown of law and order.
Among those most particularly vulnerable are children, many of whom are separated from families, abused or recruited into armed groups. Unicef estimates that a third of the fighters in armed groups are children and in just the first two weeks of April more than 70 were killed.