Procedure : 2018/2853(RSP)
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Document selected : B8-0448/2018

Texts tabled :

B8-0448/2018

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Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2018)0383

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0444/2018
1.10.2018
PE624.126v01-00
 
B8-0448/2018

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure


on the situation in Yemen (2018/2853(RSP))


Ignazio Corrao, Rolandas Paksas, Fabio Massimo Castaldo on behalf of the EFDD Group

European Parliament resolution on the situation in Yemen (2018/2853(RSP))  
B8‑0448/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Yemen, in particular those of 30 November 2017(1), 15 June 2017(2) and 25 February 2016(3) on the humanitarian situation in Yemen,

–  having regard to the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights of 17 August 2018 containing the findings of the Group of Independent Eminent International and Regional Experts on the situation of human rights in Yemen, including violations and abuses since September 2014,

–  having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 2402 (2018) extending the sanctions regime against Yemen until 26 February 2019,

–  having regard to the UNSC resolutions on Yemen, in particular Resolutions 2342 (2017), 2266 (2016), 2216 (2015), 2201 (2015) and 2140 (2014),

–  having regard to the statement of 15 March 2018 by the President of the UN Security Council on Yemen,

–  having regard to the briefing of 21 September 2018 to the UN Security Council by UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock on the humanitarian situation in Yemen,

–  having regard to the statement of 24 August 2018 by UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock on the situation in Yemen,

–  having regard to the statement of 10 August 2018 by the Spokesperson of the European External Action Service on the situation in Yemen,

–  having regard to the joint statement of 13 June 2018 by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), Federica Mogherini, and the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, on the latest developments around Hodeidah, Yemen,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 25 June 2018 on Yemen,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the situation in Yemen is reaching a tipping point as UN-brokered negotiations have not yet led to meaningful progress towards a political solution, neither side has achieved a military victory and each is unlikely to do so in the future, new confrontations and fighting are erupting around the country, especially in the crucial Hodeidah area, and the humanitarian situation keeps worsening;

B.  whereas in his briefing to the UN Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Yemen, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator warned that humanitarian aid and relief cannot cope with the famine and the deteriorating situation, and that around 75 % of the population, some 22 million people, are in need of some kind of humanitarian assistance or protection; whereas an additional 3.5 million people may soon be added to the 8 million already suffering from severe food insecurity, as the conflict and the lingering effects of the blockade are stifling the much needed imports into the country; whereas 500 000 children in Yemen are at risk of starving to death and whereas according to estimates, a child dies every 10 minutes in the country;

C.  whereas the worsening economic situation in the country further contributes to what is already the largest humanitarian crisis in the world; whereas Yemen’s currency has lost half its value since 2015 and has recently gone into freefall, driving up the prices of essential goods in the country; whereas this negative trend is reinforced by the battle in Hodeidah, Yemen’s main import hub; whereas Houthi controlled areas are suffering from a severe shortage of fuel because of restrictions enforced by the Government of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, which affects the life of citizens and impacts the delivery of basic services;

D.  whereas the recent escalation around Hodeidah has rendered the main road to Sana’a inaccessible, further complicating the transit of humanitarian traffic, and the recent fighting in the area has hit facilities that provide healthcare, water and sanitation, raising fears of a resurgence in the cholera epidemic that has ravaged Yemen twice during the war and which has infected more than one million Yemenis and killed 2 300 people since April 2017;

E.  whereas, according to the UN, almost 470 000 people have fled Hodeidah Governorate since early June, 75 % of the population depends on humanitarian aid and 17.8 million are food insecure;

F.  whereas despite the opening of the school year, 2 million children remain out of school and another 4 million are at risk of losing access to education as about 67 % of public school teachers have not been paid for nearly two years, 66 % of schools have been damaged by conflict, 27 % are closed and 7 % are being used by armed groups or as shelters by displaced people;

G.  whereas these combined elements put an entire generation of Yemenis at risk as children face multiple threats, from bombs, to hunger, to epidemics and forced conscription; whereas over 2 635 children, all boys, have been recruited and used by armed forces and armed groups and almost 50 % of girls have been made to marry before the age of 15;

H.  whereas the coalition-led airstrikes continue to cause civilian casualties and the destruction of infrastructure; whereas a Saudi-led airstrike on 24 August killed at least 22 children and four women in Yemen and a previous airstrike on 9 August struck a school bus, killing dozens of people, including children; whereas such episodes raise serious doubts about the targeting procedures of the coalition’s airstrikes as well as about the coalition’s will to limit casualties; whereas Houthi rebels continue to fire ballistic missiles on Riyadh and into Saudi territory;

I.  whereas the laws of war prohibit deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilians; whereas such attacks are considered war crimes and individuals who commit them may be prosecuted for these crimes; whereas according to the United Nations Human Rights Office, at least 6 660 civilians were killed and 10 500 injured in Yemen between March 2015 and 23 August 2018;

J.  whereas in its report of 28 August 2018 on the situation of human rights in Yemen, the Group of Independent Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen points out that coalition airstrikes have caused most direct civilian casualties, as the attacks have hit residential areas and public spaces, and that there are reasonable grounds to believe that such attacks have been conducted in violation of the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution; whereas, at the same time, the alleged indiscriminate use by Houthi rebels of weapons with wide areas of effect in situations of urban warfare is extremely concerning; whereas the report suggests that the parties to the conflict have not shown any attempt to minimise civilian casualties and have perpetrated, and continue to perpetrate, violations and crimes under international law that may amount to war crimes;

K.  whereas the report also identifies a number of other human rights violations which are ongoing in the country and which are being committed on all sides of the conflict, including widespread arbitrary detentions, ill-treatment and torture in some facilities, sexual violence, the enlistment of children into armed forces and serious restrictions to the right of freedom of expression;

L.  whereas Kamel Jendoubi, Chairman of the Group of Eminent Experts, which issued the report to the Human Rights Council, is the victim of a smear campaign aimed at intimidating the Group of Eminent Experts and casting doubt on its findings;

M.  whereas, on 28 September 2018, despite pressure from a number of countries and the refusal of the Government of Yemen to extend the mission of the experts, accusing them of bias towards the Houthi militias, the Human Rights Council renewed the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts in Yemen;

N.  whereas an attempt to hold talks on Yemen in Geneva at the beginning of September 2018, the first in three years, collapsed after the Houthi delegation did not attend, accusing the Saudi-led coalition of obstructing its travel to the peace talks;

O.  whereas an international arms embargo is in place against armed groups in Yemen, in particular the Houthi rebels; whereas according to the EU’s 19th Annual Report on Arms Exports, Member States have continued to authorise transfers of arms to Saudi Arabia since the escalation of the conflict, in violation of Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008 on arms export controls; whereas Parliament’s resolutions of 25 February 2016 and 30 November 2017 on the humanitarian situation in Yemen called on the VP/HR to launch an initiative to impose an EU arms embargo on Saudi Arabia, in line with Common Position 2008/944/CFSP;

1.  Condemns in the strongest terms the ongoing violence in Yemen and reaffirms its gravest concern over the devastating effects of the conflict on the population of Yemen and the alarming deterioration of the humanitarian situation; recognises once again that this crisis has become the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world;

2.  Expresses its condolences to the victims; laments the fact that the conflict is still not receiving the attention it deserves; calls on all international actors to keep the situation in Yemen at the top of the international agenda and to work together to find viable solutions;

3.  Reiterates its position that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Yemen and that the only possible solution is a negotiated process between the parties; reiterates its full support for the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and the Special Envoy for Yemen to achieve a resumption of negotiations; calls on all parties to the conflict, as well as on regional actors, to engage constructively in the process within the framework of the UN;

4.  Deplores, in this context, the failure of the first round of consultations in Geneva (6-9 September 2018) and calls on all parties to the conflict to refrain from aggressive discourse and pointless blame games, to resume confidence-building measures and to re-engage in good faith in the peace process brokered by the UN; hopes the UN General Assembly may provide the needed impetus to resume negotiations;

5.  Welcomes the recent visit of UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to Sana’a on 16 September 2018, with the aim of resuming peace talks and encouraging confidence-building measures such as the complete reopening of Sana’a airport to passenger and commercial flights and the payment by the Government of Yemen of the salaries of civil servants in all areas of the country, and supports his attempts to revive the peace negotiations by creating the conditions for fruitful talks between the parties;

6.  Recalls, once again, that the parties to the conflict have the responsibility to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure and that attacks against them constitute war crimes; calls on all parties involved to allow immediate and full humanitarian access to the conflict-affected areas in order to assist the population in need; calls on the Council and the UN Security Council, in implementing its Resolution 2216 (2015), to identify individuals obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Yemen and to impose targeted sanctions on them;

7.  Urges all parties to take the necessary measures to remove disproportionate restrictions on the safe and expeditious entry into Yemen of humanitarian supplies and other goods indispensable to the civilian population, and on the movement of persons, including through Sana’a International Airport, in compliance with international humanitarian law;

8.  Strongly condemns the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes in Yemen that have caused most direct civilian casualties and have been conducted in violation of the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution, the results of which show a lack of will to limit casualties; urges the Saudi-led coalition to immediately halt its strikes in Yemen and to remove its blockade against the country; equally, condemns the use by Houthi rebels of weapons with wide areas of effect in situations of urban warfare as well as the launching of ballistic missiles targeting Saudi Arabia; is convinced that these violations, as also stated in the report of the Group of Eminent Experts, clearly constitute war crimes;

9.  Calls on Saudi Arabia and the other partners of the coalition to promptly investigate any incident involving their activities in Yemen, to take appropriate accountability measures and release the results publicly; is convinced that independent investigations should be launched to ascertain where responsibility lies, as the coalition’s investigative body tasked with doing so, the Joint Incidents Assessment Team, has fallen short of international standards regarding transparency, impartiality and independence;

10.  Condemns the unfounded attempts to undermine the Chair of the Group of Eminent Experts and the decision of the Government of Yemen to stop cooperating with the group; warmly welcomes the decision by the UNHRC to extend the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts, allowing it to continue gathering evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Yemen; believes that the Group of Eminent Experts should be transformed into a fully-fledged international commission of inquiry; calls, in light of the serious accusations against Saudi Arabia concerning its role in Yemen, for its suspension as a member of the UN Human Rights Council;

11.  Is extremely concerned by the intensification of fighting around Hodeidah, which is a crucial hub for aid operations and is where most of Yemen’s food imports arrive; urges the parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure and urges them to keep the port of Hodeidah and the main roads open to humanitarian aid, insisting at the same time that no humanitarian site should be used for military purposes;

12.  Believes it is important to find practical solutions such as the opening of air bridges for civilian populations, as suggested by the UN, with the aim of eventually reopening the airport in Sana’a; is convinced that such measures should not be seen as politically motivated but as a means to ease the suffering of the civilian population;

13.  Pays tribute to all the aid workers, agencies and civil society organisations involved in relief efforts and salutes the work of organisations dedicated to the defence and promotion of human rights and the collection of evidence of violations by the parties to the conflict, in extremely difficult conditions;

14.  Calls on the Council to effectively promote compliance with international humanitarian law, as provided for in the relevant EU guidelines; reiterates, in particular, the need for the strict application by all EU Member States of the rules laid down in Common Position 2008/944/CFSP; recalls, in this regard, its resolutions on the humanitarian situation in Yemen of 25 February 2016 and 30 November 2017, which call on the VP/HR to launch an initiative to impose an EU arms embargo on Saudi Arabia, given the serious allegations of breaches of international humanitarian law by the country in Yemen and the fact that the continued licensing of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia would therefore be in breach of Common Position 2008/944/CFSP;

15.  Calls on the Commission, the VP/HR and the Council to act in international fora and bilaterally, taking all necessary steps to facilitate the resumption of negotiations between the parties;

16.  Stresses the importance of the EU’s role since the beginning of the current conflict in March 2015; recalls that the EU has allocated EUR 233.7 million in humanitarian aid through its partner organisations; calls on the Commission and the Member States to further step up their humanitarian assistance to the population of Yemen;

17.  Reserves the right to reconsider the matter until a negotiated solution is reached; recommends that its Subcommittee on Human Rights monitor human rights developments in Yemen and produce a report on the violations of human and civil rights perpetrated in the country;

18.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States and the Government of Yemen.

 

(1)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0473.

(2)

OJ C 331, 18.9.2018, p. 146.

(3)

OJ C 35, 31.1.2018, p. 142.

Last updated: 2 October 2018Legal notice