Motion for a resolution - B8-0651/2017Motion for a resolution
B8-0651/2017

    MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the humanitarian situation in Yemen

    22.11.2017 - (2017/2849(RSP))

    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

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

    See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0649/2017

    Procedure : 2017/2849(RSP)
    Document stages in plenary
    Document selected :  
    B8-0651/2017

    B8‑0651/2017

    European Parliament resolution on the humanitarian situation in Yemen

    (2017/2849(RSP))

    The European Parliament,

    –  having regard to the statement on Yemen made to the UN Security Council by Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, in New York on 26 January 2017,

    –  having regard to the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen held in Geneva on 25 April 2017, and to the UN Secretary-General’s opening remarks at that event,

    –  having regard to the briefing of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Yemen to the open session of the UN Security Council of 30 May 2017,

    –  having regard to the Council conclusions on Yemen of 3 April 2017,

    –  having regard to the UN Security Council resolutions on Yemen,

    –  having regard to the UN Secretary-General’s Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict,

    –  having regard to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, to which Yemen is a party,

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

    A.  whereas Yemen, which was already the poorest Arab country, descended into generalised armed conflict in 2015 and is now considered the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in terms of the absolute numbers of people in need, with millions of Yemenis affected by a triple man-made tragedy, namely, the brutal armed conflict, looming famine, and the world’s largest ever cholera outbreak in a single year; whereas, according to the revised UN humanitarian assessment of July 2017, the number of people in need of assistance had risen from 18.8 to 20.7 million, a figure equivalent to almost three-quarters of the total population;

    B.  whereas the Saudi‑led coalition recently completely sealed off Yemen’s borders to prevent the alleged shipping of arms into Yemen, after a Houthi-fired missile was shot down near Riyadh; whereas the UN inspects inbound cargo, and a panel reportedly found no evidence to support the Saudi claims of transfers; whereas sealing off the borders further exacerbates the already desperate humanitarian situation; whereas mitigating measures announced by the coalition, such as re‑opening the port of Aden, are inadequate for meeting humanitarian needs;

    C.  whereas more than 3 million people have been displaced, of whom 2 million remain in a situation of protracted displacement, 11.3 million need protection services, 17 million need food assistance, 14.5 million need water, sanitation and hygiene, 14.8 million need access to healthcare, 4.5 million need emergency nutrition services and 4.5 million need access to shelter and non-food items; whereas, since the start of the conflict, according to the UN, at least 8 157 people have been killed and 44 000 wounded; whereas, despite the gravity of the crisis, Yemen remains largely neglected;

    D.  whereas to date the UN has verified over 325 attacks on schools, health facilities, markets, roads, bridges and even water points; whereas over two‑thirds of the damage to public infrastructure is the result of airstrikes by the Saudi-led military coalition; whereas the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen has indiscriminately targeted civilians and has contributed to creating a disastrous humanitarian situation that affects people across the country, has serious implications for the region, and constitutes a threat to international peace and security;

    E.  whereas the UN blacklisted the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition for killing and injuring 683 children in Yemen and for carrying out at least 38 attacks on schools and hospitals in 2016; whereas the UN report also named the Houthi rebel group, Yemeni government forces, pro-government militia and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula for violations against children in 2016;

    F.  whereas, after two years, Saudi Arabia is still imposing an aerial and naval blockade against Yemen; whereas this blockade is directly responsible for the economic collapse of the country and the famine, and is severely aggravating the humanitarian crisis; whereas the UN estimated that the closure of Sana’a airport had prevented an estimated 20 000 people from accessing life-saving healthcare abroad; whereas efforts to deliver humanitarian aid are being further hampered by the standoff over Al Hudaydah port, where no agreement has been reached yet;

    G.  whereas some EU Member States are continuing to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, in violation of Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008 defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment[1]; whereas the UK’s sales of weapons and military equipment to Saudi Arabia topped the USD 1.4 billion mark in the first half of 2017;

    H.  whereas the cholera epidemic in Yemen has become the largest and fastest-spreading outbreak of the disease in modern history, with around 800 000 suspected cases and 2 261 related deaths between October 2016 and September 2017; whereas the cholera outbreak has been defined as a man-made crisis made possible by the complete breakdown in sanitation and the collapse of the public health system;

    I.  whereas the forced displacement of civilians remains a key feature of the ongoing conflict in Yemen, as nearly 3 million people still remain displaced from their homes, nearly a quarter of them living in collective centres;

    J.  whereas children bear a disproportionate burden, making up more than half of the people currently displaced in Yemen; whereas UNICEF warns that one child dies every 10 minutes in Yemen from a preventable disease and the UN confirmed at least 1 340 child casualties in 2016; whereas child malnutrition is at an all-time high in Yemen, with an estimated 386 000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition and 1.8 million children facing moderate acute malnutrition; whereas, more generally, 11.3 million children, around 80 % of all children in Yemen, need humanitarian assistance;

    K.  whereas salaries for public sector employees, and, in particular, for health, education and sanitation workers continue to go unpaid, thereby hampering the ongoing humanitarian and early recovery efforts; whereas 12 200 of a total of 15 800 schools remain closed due to unpaid salaries in northern governorates, affecting 79 % of children, and whereas nearly 500 schools have been destroyed during the conflict or turned into shelters or commandeered by armed factions;

    L.  whereas in 2016 the UN verified at least 517 cases of recruitment and deployment of boys as young as 11 by all sides, but the difficulties in monitoring mean that this number severely underestimates the reality; whereas Hassan Zaid, the Minister for Youth and Sports in the Houthi administration, recently suggested that pupils and teachers could be armed;

    M.  whereas NGOs and agencies working on the ground are severely underfunded with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs lamenting a funding gap of at least USD 1 billion for the Humanitarian Response Plan;

    N.  whereas the UN held a High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen, co-hosted by the Governments of Switzerland and Sweden, at which donors pledged USD 1.1 billion to help people in urgent need in Yemen; whereas the estimated needs under the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan stand at USD 2.3 billion, of which at least USD 1 billion is still unfunded; whereas NGOs and agencies working on the ground remain severely underfunded;

    O.  whereas the fragmentation of the country and the ongoing conflict are allowing Al Qaeda, ISIS/Daesh and other terrorist groups to increase their presence on the ground;

    P.  whereas there has been a dramatic increase in lethal drone operations in Yemen outside of the ongoing armed conflict since January 2017, with at least 115 confirmed strikes, including two ground raids, and whereas a number of people, including women, children and the elderly, have been killed, seriously injured or traumatised by such lethal counter terror operations and concerns have been raised that such operations violate established principles of international human rights law;

    Q.  whereas, since the start of the conflict, the Commission has provided humanitarian assistance allocating a total of EUR 171 million; whereas for 2017, the EU is providing EUR 51.7 million in life-saving assistance to the Yemeni populations;

    1.  Reaffirms its extremely grave concern regarding the devastating consequences of the ongoing conflict for Yemen and its population; recognises that this crisis has become the biggest single-nation humanitarian crisis in the world and is still not receiving the attention it merits; laments the further exacerbation of the situation by the closure of Yemen’s land, sea and air borders imposed by the Saudi-led coalition on 6 November 2017; calls on all international actors to keep the situation in Yemen at the top of the international agenda and to work together to find solutions;

    2.  Strongly condemns the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes against Yemen, which have led to thousands of deaths and to the destruction of key civilian infrastructures, thereby contributing to the worsening of the humanitarian crisis; considers that these airstrikes may amount to war crimes; stresses that ensuring accountability for violations is indispensable to achieving a lasting settlement of the conflict; calls on the Iranian authorities to use their influence with the Saleh/Houthi regime to put a stop to the missile attacks on Saudi Arabia that are exacerbating the conflict;

    3.  Strongly condemns all human rights violations against civilians perpetrated by the Houthis, which allegedly amount to more than 500 in the last month alone;

    4.  Reiterates its position that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Yemen and that the only possible solution is through a negotiation process between the parties; welcomes the role and supports the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and the UN Special Envoy for Yemen; calls on all parties to the conflict as well as on regional players to engage constructively in a process under the leadership of the UN to de-escalate the conflict, bring relief to the civilian population, and negotiate a settlement to bring the violence to an end; urges the Saudi-led coalition to include all major representatives of the Yemeni people in the talks to ensure that any solution is not imposed from above, but receives widespread support, and urges the Saleh/Houthi administration to re-engage with the UN Special Envoy;

    5.  Reminds the parties to the conflict once again that granting timely and unimpeded humanitarian access is a key obligation under international humanitarian law; welcomes the partial easing of the blockade, allowing vital supplies into ports in government-controlled areas, but notes this measure is inadequate for meeting the humanitarian needs; calls on the Saudi-led coalition to completely lift the blockade; laments the fact that major challenges remain for humanitarian aid and humanitarian actors willing to access people in need, owing to active fighting, insecurity, bureaucratic hurdles and lack of funding; urges, in particular, the Saudi-led coalition to lift the obstacles facing humanitarian actors, including the denial of transport into the country and the refusal to grant the necessary clearances;

    6.  Stresses that violence and conflict are the prime causes of displacement in Yemen, as the majority of internally displaced persons are from governorates where violence is rampant; stresses that the returnees often find themselves faced with impossible conditions as they discover widespread destruction and lack of opportunities on their return;

    7.  Recalls once again that the parties to the conflict have a responsibility to protect civilians and civilian infrastructures; calls for action to prevent and respond to all forms of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence; calls for the payment of outstanding wages so that Yemenis can attempt to provide the basics for their families, and urges the Saudi-led coalition to ensure that this is treated as a matter of priority;

    8.  Insists that all parties to the conflict ensure that persons who have not yet turned 18 are not compulsorily recruited into their armed forces, as laid down in the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict to which Yemen is a party, and as reiterated in the joint declaration where Yemen declared its commitment to retaining the ban on the compulsory or voluntary recruitment of any person under the age of 18; strongly rejects any declaration suggesting the recruitment of schoolchildren and students;

    9.  Calls on the parties to the conflict to commit to reaching a compromise on the situation in Al Hudaydah in order to prevent the shutting down of the port, since this would have serious consequences for the provision of supplies of food and medicines; laments the fact that the proposal by the UN Special Envoy in this regard has not been accepted, but calls for renewed efforts to do so; calls on the coalition to reopen civilian airports, especially Sana’a airport, to UN flights and to commercial air traffic, including humanitarian flights, and to ensure the transparent governance of Aden airport;

    10.  Calls for urgent, reinforced and coordinated humanitarian action under the leadership of the UN; welcomes the holding of the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen, and calls on the parties to fulfil their pledges as quickly as possible; expresses concern that the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan is still severely underfunded; calls for a renewal of commitment by the international community, and, in particular, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the EU and its Member States in this regard; welcomes the USD 207.5 million in additional pledges, from Denmark (USD 12.8 million), the Netherlands (USD 3 million), the United Kingdom (USD 21.7 million) and the United States (USD 170 million);

    11.  Calls on the Member States to immediately halt the flow of arms and military assistance to members of the Saudi-led collation for use in Yemen, including any equipment or logistical support being used to maintain the blockade; laments the fact that, in spite of its reiterated calls to impose a weapons embargo on Saudi Arabia, nothing has been done to achieve it; urges, once again, the VP/HR to launch an initiative aimed at imposing an EU arms embargo on Saudi Arabia, given the serious allegations of breaches of international humanitarian law by Saudi Arabia in Yemen and the fact that the continued licensing of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia would therefore be in breach of Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP;

    12.  Express its grave concern over the dramatic increase in lethal counter terror operations in Yemen outside the international legal framework and calls on the Member States, in conformity with their legal obligations, not to perpetrate, facilitate or otherwise take part in unlawful lethal operations;

    13.  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.