May 21, 2015

Cardin Statement on the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen

Washington, DC – Senator Ben Cardin, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement regarding the growing humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

“The Saudi-initiated five-day humanitarian pause was a welcome development, but there is evidence that the Houthi movement did not respect the ceasefire and continued to take aggressive actions inside Yemen,” said Senator Cardin. “A political dialogue amongst all parties is required to solve this crisis. I call on Houthi leaders to cease unilateral activities and engage in dialogue under United Nations auspices.

“I am deeply concerned about the escalating humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Yemen was particularly vulnerable before this conflict, and now civilians throughout the country are facing alarming levels of suffering and violence as well as life-threatening shortages of food, water and fuel. Almost two thousand civilians have been killed or injured and over 500,000 displaced from their homes. Hospitals and clinics have been destroyed, and emergency protection services are scarce. According to the United Nations, 90% of Yemen’s national food consumption is imported, and this supply has been interrupted by the closure of air, water, and land entry-routes into Yemen since the bombing campaign began. The five-day ceasefire allowed humanitarian organizations to provide limited emergency assistance, but it is not sufficient.

“To confront this enormous challenge and respond to Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, the international community must work quickly to ensure that the situation does not further deteriorate.  I call on all stakeholders committed to a negotiated, political solution in Yemen to work together in taking the following steps:

  • Elevate protections for civilians and civilian infrastructures, such as hospitals and schools, with all parties to the conflict.
  • Work with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to provide greater humanitarian access and passage of the essential supplies into the country.
  • Call on the Houthi movement to cease aggressive actions and commit to political dialogue led by the new UN envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmend.
  • Hold an international donor conference which should build on Saudi Arabia’s pledge for a “Marshall Plan” to rebuild Yemen and prioritize the urgent enormous humanitarian needs while setting goals to address the country’s long-term development needs.

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