Yemen Labor Market

The right to union membership is guaranteed by law, but in practice there have always been limits to union operations. And under the state of war that has prevailed in Yemen in recent years, all normal conditions have been disrupted.

According to official estimates, just over 14 percent of the population lacked work in 2018. But all figures must be taken with a big pinch of salt: Yemen is a country in disrepair, shaken by war for several years. The internationally recognized government controls only parts of the country – the capital and the most important port city are in rebel hands. A functioning labor market is almost nowhere to be found, and the government is leaning on allied neighboring countries to be able to pay salaries to civil servants. The war not least impedes the production and transport of food. A significant part of the assistance directed to Yemen is intended to try to keep vital community functions such as care and vaccinations.

For some, the war offers a livelihood, albeit scarce and risky: in 2018, The Independent magazine reported that the skin movement paid $ 100 a month to anyone who was prepared to become a rebel soldier. Also in terror groups that sympathize with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, there are people who are against payment.

  • COUNTRYAAH: List of key population facts of Yemen, covering most basic population data, religion statistics, and language profiles.

Yemen Population

Descriptions of the regular labor market are based on what the situation looked like before 2015, when neighboring countries militarily intervened in a war between government and rebels that was already going on. In 2015, a report on the labor market was published with the help of the UN organization ILO. The facts gathered for that report indicated that unemployment had already been on the rise for several years. A quarter of all young people aged 15-24 went out of work. It was most difficult for young women to find livelihood.

Given that Yemen’s population is young, and now in practice neither can work nor study, at least one generation will have their prospects obscured by the war. Food shortages and psychological crisis responses to the war will also have long-term consequences for the population’s ability to support themselves. The ILO identifies investments in small businesses, not least for women, as crucial.

Trade union rights are guaranteed by law, but in practice they were also circumcised even before the war. The only national organization was linked to the previous government.

In order to cope with their livelihood, many Yemenis seek refuge abroad. In Saudi Arabia alone, hundreds of thousands of Yemenis have had jobs, but the Saudis have forced large crowds to leave the country (see Economic overview). Saudi Arabia also senses fluctuations in oil prices and in some respects tightens its economy. Many Yemenis work in other countries in the Persian Gulf, Southeast Asia and the United States.

Despite the state of war, people also continue to cross the sea to Yemen from the Horn of Africa. They hope – if they survive the boat trip – to move on to the states of the Persian Gulf and find work there, but many get stuck in Yemen, under difficult conditions.



12.8 percent (2019)

Youth Unemployment

23.4 percent (2019)



Peace talks and ceasefire

December 15

The warring parties (the Hadi government on the one hand and the Houthis with Salehs on the other) initiate peace talks in Switzerland under the UN leadership. On the same day, an armistice comes into force. A total of 5,878 people are estimated to have been killed since the launch of the Saudi air strikes against the huhirebells in March. It is estimated that around half of the victims are civilians. Peace talks are canceled without results before Christmas.


Lock call from IS and al-Qaeda

November 16

IS supporters release a video calling on al-Qaeda sympathizers in Yemen to swear allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who is moving in Syria and Iraq.

Emirate squad for Aden

November 14

Emirati security forces arrive in Aden to protect Hadi’s presidential palace. In Aden, there is what is described as a security vacuum, which allows both al Qaeda and IS loyal forces to act.


MSF hospital bombed

October 27th

MSF states that a hospital run by the organization in Haydan in the northwest has been hit by air strikes. The Saudi-led alliance refuses to carry out the attack. MSF has treated 15,000 injured in MSF hospitals in the seven months since the Alliance launched its combat operations in Yemen.

Women request representation

October 11

A delegation of 45 Yemeni women meets with the UN’s Yemeni messenger in Cyprus. Among other things, they want women to be involved in all peace talks.

UN plan in seven points

October 6

In a letter to the UN Secretary-General, representatives of the Houthis pledge to respect the UN’s wishes for peace efforts, as expressed, inter alia, in Resolution 2216 of the Security Council. The UN hopes that a peace plan in seven points, called the Muscat Declaration, will be implemented.


Bloody attack on wedding

September 28

An attack on a wedding party in the port city of al-Mukha (Mocka) in the southwest will kill at least 130 people, the BBC reports. The groom has ties to the huhire bells and suspicions fall on the Saudi-led coalition, which rejects the accusations.

Assault against Shia sanctuary

September 24th

About 30 people lose their lives in a suicide attack against a Shiite Muslim mosque in Sanaa, run by Huthis.

The President on the spot in Aden

September 22

President Hadi returns from exile to Aden, where his second husband, Khaled Bahah and the government, have also arrived a week earlier.


Amnesty: Civilian targets are attacked

August 18th

Amnesty International states in a report that both sides of the civil war may have been guilty of war crimes and calls on the UN to investigate the matter. Amnesty has investigated attacks by both Houthis and Saudi-led forces. Many of the attacks appear to have been directed at civilian targets.


Emergency mode in Aden and Taizz

July 26

The International Red Cross Committee warns that the suffering of the civilian population is very high as a result of the fighting in Aden and Taizz. The lack of water, food and fuel is acute. The Saudi-led alliance announces a unilateral ceasefire for five days to help the needy, but already during the first day of the ceasefire there is a change of fire.

Government: Aden “liberated”

July 17

Forces affiliated with the exile government have regained the port city of Aden from the huthirebels. Khaled Bahah, now both Vice President and Prime Minister, promises that the community service will be restored.

The weapons rest for a week

July 11

A week-long humanitarian ceasefire begins. According to the UN, more than 3,000 people have lost their lives since the Saudi-led alliance launched its aerial bombings in March in an attempt to halt the progress of the Houthis and reinstall the country’s government. The UN states that more than 80 percent of the country’s residents are in need of outside help.


Peace talks resultless

June 19

Peace talks in Switzerland conclude without the parties (Hadi’s Saudi-backed government and huhirebells with President Saleh) agreeing to cease fire.

Terror leader killed by drones

June 16

al-Qaeda leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi is reported to have been killed in a US drone raid in Mukalla in Hadramawt. Qasim al-Raymi is then appointed new leader of Aqap, the terror group’s division on the Arabian Peninsula.

Peace talks begin in Switzerland

June 14

Peace talks between the Saudi-backed Hadi government and the huhirebels supporting President Saleh begin in Geneva under the UN mediation. The days before, Saudi Arabia flies toward Sanaa. The Saudis are accused of bombing Sana’s old parts, which are on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, but the Saudis refuse.

Measles and dengue fever are spread

June 12

More than 3,000 cases of measles since March are reported by WHO. The spread of dengue fever, which has been severe for ten years, is also serious.

Robots against Saudi Arabia

6th June

Huthier is reported to have fired two Scud robots over the border into Saudi Arabia. However, they must have been shot down by Saudi forces before reaching their targets. The fighting intensifies.


Bomb attacks damage construction work

May 31st

According to archaeologists in a bomb attack carried out by the Saudi-led alliance, a marble dam from the 7th century in Marib is damaged.

Short ceasefire for UN assistance

May 13th

During a five-day humanitarian ceasefire, the UN begins distributing aid through the port of al-Hudayda. The UN estimates that more than 1,800 people have been killed since the fighting began. More than 545,000 have been displaced from their homes. Twelve million are estimated to have insecure access to food.


Port and airblocks are maintained

April 21

The Saudi-led alliance states that the operation has now reached its goal and that the attacks are canceled. However, an air and sea block must be maintained to prevent weapons supplies from reaching the huthis. On the ground, however, the fighting continues between huhire bells and forces fighting for President Hadi. Just hours after the announcement of a halt to the attack, the alliance is firing a military headquarters in the city of Taizz, which was taken by rebels.

Saudi promise of relief

April 18

The United Nations appeals for $ 273 million in emergency aid to Yemen. Saudi Arabia promises to stand for the entire sum.

The UN requires a right of rent

April 14

The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 2216, which calls for an end to the fighting and for the Huthirbells to withdraw from areas they have taken in the last months of the offensive, including the capital Sanaa. Russia casts its vote.

Presidential circle in Saudi exile

April 13

Prime Minister Khaled Bahah, who is in Saudi Arabia together with President Hadi, holds office as Vice President.

Minors on the battlefields

April 10

The UN warns that the humanitarian situation is developing into disaster; Unicef ​​states that minors account for almost a third of those fighting in Yemen.

Presidential palace in Aden is stormed

April 3

Despite the bombing of the Alliance and the government’s loyal forces on the ground, the Huthirbells manage to penetrate further into Aden and storm both the Presidential Palace and the local government buildings. The Red Cross calls for a break in the fighting so that civilians can seek care and provide food and water. Russia is presenting in the UN Security Council a resolution urging the Alliance to halt air strikes.

Al Qaeda is taking advantage of the situation

2 April

The al-Qaeda branch of Aqap frees more than 300 prisoners in Mukalla and manages to take control of the city, the capital of Hadramawt province in the coming weeks. According to news reports, there is without much opposition from government forces located nearby.


Saudi-led attacks start

March 25th

An alliance of countries led by Saudi Arabia is launching air strikes against the positions of the Huthirbells in support of the Hadi government. The alliance attacks targets in the capital Sanaa and in the clan Huthi’s home province of Saada. The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt and Sudan join the government; all countries in the Arabian Peninsula participate except Oman. The United States promises to support the alliance with intelligence, advice and logistics. The United Kingdom promises technical assistance. The Shiite-dominated countries Iran and Iraq demand a halt to the attacks. The UN, Pakistan and other countries are evacuating Yemeni personnel.

Hadi flees to Saudi Arabia

March 25th

The UN Security Council convenes for a crisis meeting on Yemen, which is now considered threatened by an open civil war in which the regional powers of Saudi Arabia and Iran are at risk of being withdrawn. President Hadi urges from his exile in the south to opposition to what he describes as Iranian intervention in the country and asks other countries to intervene. Hadi soon leaves his palace in Aden and flees to an unknown place. Later, it became known that Hadi had gone to Saudi Arabia.

US military evacuated

21 March

The United States evacuates all remaining personnel, including hundreds of soldiers stationed at an air base where they worked with intelligence operations with the help of drones. The Huthi Bells occupy the airbase outside Aden that the US recently evacuated and the city’s airport.

Suicide bombings against Shia Muslims

March 20

At least 140 people are killed in suicide attacks at two Shiite mosques in Sanaa. In both cases, an explosive charge is first detonated inside the mosque during ongoing prayer, then a man blasts to death outside as people flee. Most of the Friday prayers are said to have been members of the huthimilis. The Islamic State (IS) is taking on the attacks.

Hadi escapes attack in Aden

March 19

Fighting in Aden, according to Reuters the worst in several years, between soldiers subordinate to President Hadi and militia loyal to the huhirebells. Five people are killed at the city’s international airport. An airplane attacks the palace in the city where President Hadi is temporarily living, but he escapes.

Ministers regain freedom

March 16

The Huthimilis release former Prime Minister Bahah and all his ministers who have been in house arrest since the government’s resignation in January. The release is described as a gesture to promote conversations about a political transition process.

Alliance against the Huthi people is formed

14th of March

A series of opposition groups that span the entire political field form a common front called the National Rescue Alliance, which says it wants to restore state power and fight against domestic violence. The alliance includes Islamist and secular parties, youth organizations, clan alliances and members of the Southern movement, as well as representatives of the old ruling party, the General People’s Congress.


Sunni states follow Hadi to Aden

February 28

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates announce that they are moving their embassies to Aden where the fugitive President Hadi is located.

FN: Saleh was corrupt

February 25th

Experts from the UN announce suspicions that ex-President Saleh during his time in power through corruption stole a private fortune of between $ 30 and $ 62 billion. The money must have been taken out of the country and invested in, among other things, real estate, shares and gold assets in over twenty countries. According to the experts, some of the money should come from oil and gas deals.

Hadi takes back the presidential post

February 21st

The departed President Hadi manages to get out of house arrest and flee to Aden, where he condemns in a speech the takeover of the huhirebells and resumes his resignation. Hadi says he wants to continue negotiating a solution but that the talks should take place elsewhere than in the capital.

TV houses in Aden are stormed

February 16th

Clashes in the port city of Aden in the south, where four people are killed when semi-military forces try to storm the TV house being monitored by police. The semi-military troops support Hadi and accuse the police of cooperating with the huhirebells.

The UN demands a rebel retreat

February 15

In a resolution, the UN Security Council calls for the Huthi rebels to leave power and reinstate President Hadi. The Huthis reject the UN’s demands. The United States, the United Kingdom, France and others close their embassies.

Security cabinet is set up

February 7

The Huthi movement appoints a security commission to govern the country until the intended presidential council is established. The Commission includes some of the ministers of Hadi’s government, including the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Defense who will lead the group.

The rebels dissolve Parliament

6th of February

The Huthis dissolve Parliament and set up a five-man presidency to govern the country over a two-year transition period. The Huthis also say they intend to create a 551 strong national council to replace Parliament. The actions of the rebels are condemned by the United States, the United Nations, the Arab League and the Gulf States Cooperative Organization GCC. There are also protests in the country, including in Sanaa, Taizz, al-Hudayda and Aden.

Al Qaeda leaders are killed

February 5

A senior leader of Aqap, the terrorist network’s al-Qaeda’s foothold in the Arabian Peninsula, is killed in a US drone attack.


The government is leaving

January 22

President Hadi agrees to a number of the rebels’ demands and says he is ready to change a proposal for a new constitution criticized by the huhirebels. The Huthi movement is promised increased representation in parliament and in state institutions. The Rebels promise to leave key posts in the capital, but that doesn’t happen. With reference to the rebels not holding the deal, Hadi resigns, and with him Prime Minister Bahah and the rest of the government. The message triggers demonstrations against the rebel takeover of power in Sanaa. The military committee responsible for four provinces in the south says it no longer takes orders from the capital. Concern is mounting that the power vacuum that has arisen will lead to civil war.

The Presidential Palace is storming

January 20th

Huthirebeller takes over more positions in Sanaa and surrounds the presidential palace. At least 30 people are killed in fighting between the president’s forces and the rebels. Rebel leader Abd al-Malik al-Huthi says President Hadi has not implemented the power-sharing agreement signed in September 2014, and claims that the government encourages al-Qaeda’s terrorist network on the Arabian Peninsula, which promised to protect Sunni Muslims against Shi’ite Hutis. al-Huthi’s performance is supported by former President Saleh’s party.

Attacks and popular protests

7 th of January

Following an attack on police training that requires at least 38 lives, thousands of people from various groups gather for protests in the cities of Sanaa, Ibb and Taizz. The protesters demand the departure of President Hadi. They blame Hadi for failing to give birth to the land so that the state collapsed and the Huthirbels could take over the capital.

Yemen Labor Market