Country rank


Persecution score


Last year’s rank



Middle East  North Africa

Persecution Type

Clan oppression (Very strong), Islamic oppression (Very strong), Dictatorial paranoia (Strong), Organized corruption and crime (Medium)

Persecution Level





a few thousand (OD estimate%)  According to OD-estimate

Main Religion



In transition


President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi

Open Doors supports the persecuted church in the Arabian Peninsula through:
• Prayer & practical support


What does persecution look like in Yemen?

Christians in Yemen usually keep their faith secret, because if they are discovered then they could face the death penalty. Leaving Islam is forbidden, and all Yemenis are considered Muslims by the state. 

It’s not just the authorities who persecute Christians. Islamic militant groups threaten Christians from a Muslim background with death, and tribes may kill or banish anybody converting to Christianity. 

The ongoing war, humanitarian crisis and COVID-19 pandemic in Yemen are impacting all citizens, but Christians are additionally vulnerable because emergency relief is mostly distributed through organizations that use local Islamic leaders and local mosques to give aid. These are believed to discriminate against anybody who is not considered to be a devout Muslim. There are accounts of Yemeni Christians being refused treatment at under-resourced hospitals. 

How women experience persecution

Yemeni women have few rights and are closely monitored, and Christian women from a Muslim background are particularly vulnerable. They will often be kept away from all other people, and if their new faith is discovered, then given as a second or third wife to a Muslim and held hostage in their new home. Forced marriage is used on young girls, as there is no minimum age for marriage. The law does not recognize marital rape as a crime. 

If a Christian woman is forced to divorce a Muslim man, she is very likely to lose custody of her child to her husband or any Muslim relative. 

How men experience persecution

Younger men are more vulnerable to persecution than older men, because of the hierarchical society. Boys as young as 10 can be forced to join militias.

Men face a greater risk than women of being killed for their faith, kidnapped, tortured or fired from their job. They are also more likely to be imprisoned by the local authorities and are generally more likely to face persecution in their public lives, whereas women are more likely to face persecution in their private lives. 

What has changed this year?

Persecution remains extreme in almost all areas of life. There are relatively few reports of violence against Christians in Yemen, though this has worsened slightly in the past year. However, it is nearly impossible to research and verify violent attacks because of the ongoing war, the secrecy Christians must maintain and the challenge of communication with underground believers. It is very likely that there is more violence that goes unreported. 

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

Christians from a Muslim background are most vulnerable to persecution – and these now make up most of the Christian population of Yemen, since the ongoing war has led many expatriate and migrant Christians to leave the country. The south of the country, where there is a strong Al Qaeda presence, is particularly dangerous. 

How can I help Christians in Yemen?

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Yemen?

Open Doors supports the body of Christ on the Arabian Peninsula through organizing prayer, distributing Scripture resources and training believers and pastors. 


– Pray for the Yemeni people after a year in which the war continues alongside floods, locusts and COVID-19. Pray that peace will come to the country and that people can start rebuilding their lives.

– Pray for secret believers and secret house churches, that they would have wisdom and discernment as they support believers.

– Pray for those taking great risks to provide seekers and new believers with discipleship support. Pray for safety as they travel through conflict areas, and that God will use them to raise up new and gifted leaders in every part of the country.


Lord God, we pray for Your protection over Your children in Yemen. We ask that You would show them that their true identity is not in their tribe, community or nationality but, first and foremost, in Jesus. Please bring peace and stability to the country, and ensure Your children can survive the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Build a resilient church, we pray. 

Your gift today will show our persecuted brothers and sisters in Yemen, and other countries in the World Watch List they are loved and remembered by you.