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The ICRC in Yemen: historical overview, 1962-2010


The ICRC has been active in Yemen since 1962, when armed conflict broke out between Republican and Royalists after the overthrow of the Imamate in the north of the country. During years of fighting, ICRC delegates were providing medical assistance, visiting prisoners of war on both sides and acting as a neutral intermediary between them.

In 1968, the ICRC founded the first orthopaedic facility in Sana'a, which has been expanded to five facilities at present, subsequently handed over to the Yemeni authorities.
In the south of Yemen, the ICRC established its first contacts during the "war of independence" and ran a delegation in Aden from 1967 to 1974.

During the 1980s, ICRC delegates were carrying out visits to detainees in the north and the south of Yemen. After the country's unification in 1990, the ICRC concluded a new agreement with the Republic of Yemen and opened a delegation in the capital Sana'a and an office in Aden in 1994. During the internal armed conflict that same year, it provided assistance to civilians in the "war zone", organised the evacuation of foreign nationals, visited detainees and acted as a neutral intermediary between the parties to the armed conflict.  

From 1995 onwards, the ICRC worked in Yemen through its Regional Delegation in Kuwait and its office in Sana'a, providing substantial aid to the Yemen Red Crescent, promoting International Humanitarian Law, and visiting detained persons during certain periods.

The Sana'a office became again a delegation in 1999. Since then, the ICRC gradually began expanding its activities in the country, starting with a presence in the northern governorate of Sa'ada in 2004, which lead to the opening of a sub-delegation there in 2007. In 2009, another sub-delegation was opened in the northern governorate of Amran, while an office was established in Aden in 2010. The ICRC has been working together with its partner, the Yemen Red Crescent Society (YRCS) since the latter's foundation in 1970.

Nowadays, the ICRC counts a 146-strong team in Yemen, including around 40 international staff members. In 2010, in close partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Yemen Red Crescent, ICRC teams provided humanitarian assistance to tens of thousands of vulnerable families, both residents and internally displaced persons (IDPs), in Amran and Sa'ada governorates, as well as in Shabwa and in Lahj governorates, which included food, essential household items, shelter, water and the provision of basic healthcare services. In addition to this, in mid-2010, ICRC re-launched its visits to persons held in places of detention in Yemen to monitor their living conditions and help them restore and maintain contact with their families.


Aden, Yemen, 1972. Yemen Red Crescent distributes milk. 

Aden, Yemen, 1972. Yemen Red Crescent distributes milk.
© ICRC / B. Martin / ye-e-00020

Aqaba, Yemen, 1967. ICRC staff tend casualties in a cave. 

Aqaba, Yemen, 1967. ICRC staff tend casualties in a cave.
© ICRC / J. Santandrea / ye-n-00032-09

Aden, Yemen, 1994. Families affected by war receive food. 

Aden, Yemen, 1994. Families affected by war receive food.
© ICRC / M. Bouvier / ye-n-00068-29