Amid signs of progress, Yemen needs a nationwide ceasefire and an end to bureaucratic obstacles to humanitarian aid.
New York, NY, November 22, 2019 — As warring parties in Yemen show signs of tentative commitment to ending the fighting, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) calls on all parties to agree to an immediate nationwide ceasefire to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people. Recent developments, including talks between Saudi Arabia and Ansar Allah (Houthis) and the agreements between the Internationally Recognized Government and the Southern Transitional Council to stabilize the south of Yemen offer signs of hope. Robust international diplomacy is now needed to ensure these steps form the basis of Yemen's future peace. As the UN Security Council meets this week, it is critical for members to send a strong message that a ceasefire is necessary and barriers to the delivery of humanitarian aid will not be tolerated.
David Miliband, President and CEO of the IRC, said, "Last month air raids reached an all-time low and attacks on Saudi Arabia have decreased. We commend all parties for these efforts. However, 14 airstrikes were reported just this weekend illustrating the fragility of progress made, and the ongoing risks to the lives of Yemeni civilians. A nationwide ceasefire is needed now to demonstrate a commitment to peace, and to allow aid agencies to address the dire humanitarian situation. The stakes could not be higher. Evidence shows that a disruption in aid provision or imports could be catastrophic for Yemenis and bring back famine conditions seen in 2018. We have consistently made clear that ending this conflict is the only way to end this humanitarian catastrophe.”
Despite progress on the political front, millions of Yemeni lives continue to depend on humanitarian aid, provision of which is obstructed by all sides. Authorities in the north and south should seize the opportunity offered by decreases in violence to remove these inexcusable barriers that keep aid from Yemenis in desperate need. It is unacceptable that children die while medicine is held up or agencies wait months for signatures and paperwork.
The people of Yemen need a ceasefire and a political resolution to this desperate war. While this is a moment for cautious optimism, progress towards a long-term political process are by no means guaranteed. Focused and meaningful diplomacy is more critical than ever. Warring parties and their international backers must put all their weight behind opportunities for peace. Yemen has suffered for too long.
The IRC has been working in Yemen since 2012 and rapidly scaled our programming in 2015 to address greater humanitarian need caused by the conflict. While the ongoing conflict and restrictions of air and seaports create challenges to our operations, the IRC has maintained access to affected populations and continues to provide life-saving healthcare, economic empowerment, women’s protection and empowerment, and education programming.
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