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PV 09/07/2015 - 12.6
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Thursday, 9 July 2015 - Strasbourg
Situation in Yemen

European Parliament resolution of 9 July 2015 on the situation in Yemen (2015/2760(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Yemen,

–  having regard to the statement of 26 March 2015 by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), Federica Mogherini, on the situation in Yemen,

–  having regard to the joint statement of 1 April 2015 by the VP/HR, Federica Mogherini, and the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, on the impact of fighting in Yemen,

–  having regard to the joint statement of 11 May 2015 by the VP/HR, Federica Mogherini, and the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, on the proposed truce in Yemen,

–  having regard to the joint statement of 3 July 2015 by the VP/HR, Federica Mogherini, and the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, on the crisis in Yemen,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 20 April 2015 on Yemen,

–  having regard to United Nations Security Council resolutions 2014 (2011), 2051 (2012), 2140 (2014), 2201 (2015) and 2216 (2015),

–  having regard to the statement of 24 May 2015 by the Co-Chairs of the 24th Gulf Cooperation Council – European Union (GCC-EU) Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting,

–  having regard to the UN Security Council press statement of 25 June 2015 on the situation in Yemen,

–  having regard to the Peace and National Partnership Agreement of 21 September 2014, the National Dialogue Conference outcomes document of 25 January 2014 and the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative of 21 November 2011,

–  having regard to the Charter of the United Nations,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the current crisis in Yemen is the result of a failure by successive governments to meet the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people for democracy, economic and social development, stability and security; whereas this failure has created the conditions for an outbreak of violent conflict by failing to establish an inclusive government and fair power‑sharing, and systematically ignoring the country’s many tribal tensions, widespread insecurity and economic paralysis;

B.  whereas the current conflict in Yemen has spread to 20 out of 22 governorates; whereas, according to the latest consolidated figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO), at least 1 439 people were killed between 19 March and 5 May 2015, and another 5 951 injured, many of them civilians; whereas more than 3 000 people have been killed, and more than 10 000 injured, since the outbreak of hostilities;

C.  whereas Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Middle East, with high rates of unemployment and illiteracy and an absence of basic services; whereas 20 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance, including an estimated 9,4 million Yemeni children, more than 250 000 refugees and 335 000 internally displaced persons;

D.  whereas the recent developments carry grave risks for the stability of the region, in particular that of the Horn of Africa, the Red Sea and the wider Middle East;

E.  whereas on 26 March 2015 a Saudi-led coalition including Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates launched a military operation in Yemen against Houthi rebels, at the request of Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi; whereas this coalition is reportedly using internationally banned cluster bombs in Yemen and whereas this is currently being investigated by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights;

F.  whereas numerous civilian casualties in Yemen have been caused by the Houthi armed groups and affiliated forces, including through the use of anti-aircraft munitions which detonate after landing in populated areas, killing and maiming civilians;

G.  whereas on several occasions air strikes by the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen have killed civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law, which requires all possible steps to be taken to prevent or minimise civilian casualties;

H.  whereas, in addition to air strikes, Saudi Arabia has imposed a naval blockade of Yemen which has had dramatic effects on the civilian population, with 22 million people – almost 80 % of the population – in urgent need of food, water and medical supplies;

I.  whereas on 15 June 2015, in view of the UN peace talks, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki‑moon called for a renewed humanitarian pause for at least two weeks during Ramadan to allow critical assistance to reach all Yemenis in need, but whereas no agreement was reached; whereas on 19 June 2015 Yemen’s warring parties failed to reach a ceasefire agreement during diplomatic talks brokered by UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed;

J.  whereas on 30 June 2015 an estimated 1 200 inmates, including Al-Qaeda suspects, escaped from the central prison in the city of Taiz; whereas around 300 inmates had already escaped from another prison in Hadramout province in April 2015; whereas terrorist attacks are taking place in Yemen, such as the 17 June 2015 attacks in Sana’a, including on three mosques, which resulted in a number of deaths and casualties;

K.  whereas on 1 July 2015 the UN declared Yemen a level 3 emergency, the highest on the scale; whereas, under the emergency plan, the UN will try to reach 11,7 million people who are most in need; whereas the health system is said to be facing ‘imminent collapse’, with the closure of at least 160 health facilities owing to insecurity and a lack of fuel and supplies;

L.  whereas 15,9 million people in Yemen are in need of humanitarian assistance; whereas the most vulnerable children will not have access to the healthcare or the nutritional services they need, owing to the current widespread insecurity;

M.  whereas 9,9 million children have been severely affected by the conflict, with 279 children killed and 402 injured since March 2015; whereas at least 1,8 million children have lost access to education owing to conflict-related school closures, which places them at increased risk of recruitment or use by armed groups and of other forms of abuse; whereas, according to UNICEF, children comprise up to a third of all fighters in Yemen, at least 140 having been recruited between 26 March and 24 April 2015 alone; whereas 156 children were confirmed to have been recruited and used by armed groups in 2014; whereas that figure has already doubled in 2015;

N.  whereas UNICEF estimates that more than half a million children under the age of five are at risk of developing severe acute malnutrition, while 1,2 million children under the age of five are at risk of moderate acute malnutrition – a near-twofold increase since the beginning of the crisis;

O.  whereas the health system is on the verge of collapse, with the interruption in vaccination services putting an estimated 2,6 million children under the age of 15 at risk of contracting measles and 2,5 million children at risk of diarrhoea – a potentially fatal condition that spreads rapidly in times of conflict and population displacement; whereas dengue fever is on the rise, chronic diseases lack treatment, and vital medical supplies and personnel are being blocked from reaching the people targeted;

P.  whereas the country is rapidly running out of fuel, and whereas this is already severely restricting aid distribution and will soon lead to a life-threatening water shortage, since drought-stricken Yemen is entirely dependent on fuel-run deep well pumps for its water supply;

Q.  whereas Yemen is also directly affected by the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa, as more than 250 000 refugees, mostly from Somalia, are stranded in the country and are living in precarious conditions; whereas, in addition, Yemen is hosting about one million Ethiopian migrants, according to government estimates;

R.  whereas, on account of the deteriorating security situation, humanitarian organisations have relocated most international staff outside of the country; whereas few organisations are still able to operate in Yemen and their activities are severely constrained;

S.  whereas Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been able to benefit from the deterioration of the political and security situation in Yemen, expanding its presence and augmenting the number and scale of its terrorist attacks;

T.  whereas the so-called Islamic State (ISIS)/Da’esh has established its presence in Yemen and carried out terrorist attacks against Shiite mosques, killing hundreds of people; whereas it is expected that both AQAP and ISIS/Da’esh will exploit Yemen’s security vacuum to increase their capabilities and plot attacks against Yemeni security forces, Houthis and any Western presence;

U.  whereas the escalation of armed conflict threatens Yemen’s cultural heritage; whereas on 2 July 2015 the World Heritage Committee placed two sites in Yemen on the List of World Heritage in Danger: the Old City of Sana’a and the Old Walled City of Shibam;

V.  whereas the EU has imposed an arms embargo and further targeted sanctions against a Houthi leader and the son of ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh; whereas two other members of the Houthi movement, together with the ex-President, have been under the same restrictions since December 2014;

W.  whereas in 2015 the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) has allocated EUR 25 million to assist communities across the country affected by acute malnutrition, conflict and forced displacement; whereas in 2014 total EU funding, from Member States and the Commission combined, for humanitarian assistance in Yemen amounted to EUR 100,8 million, of which EUR 33 million came from ECHO;

X.  whereas the UN’s revised humanitarian appeal requested USD 1,6 billion, but whereas only around 10 % of that figure is currently funded;

1.  Is seriously concerned at the rapidly deteriorating political, security and humanitarian situation in Yemen; urges all warring parties to end the use of violence immediately; expresses its condolences to the families of the victims; stresses that the EU has reaffirmed its commitment to continuing to support Yemen and the Yemeni people;

2.  Reaffirms its strong support for the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen, and stands by the people of Yemen;

3.  Condemns the destabilising and violent unilateral actions taken by the Houthis and military units loyal to ex-President Saleh; also condemns the air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition and the naval blockade it has imposed on Yemen, which have led to thousands of deaths, have further destabilised Yemen, have created conditions more conducive to the expansion of terrorist and extremist organisations such as ISIS/Da’esh and AQAP, and have exacerbated an already critical humanitarian situation;

4.  Urges all Yemeni parties, in particular the Houthis, to work towards resolving their differences through dialogue and consultation; calls on all regional actors to engage constructively with Yemeni parties in order to enable a de-escalation of the crisis and avoid further regional instability; calls on all parties to refrain from targeting cultural heritage sites and buildings by means of shelling or air strikes, and from using them for military purposes;

5.  Welcomes the fact that the EU has reiterated its firm commitment and its determination to tackle the threat posed by extremist and terrorist groups such as AQAP, and to prevent them from taking further advantage of the current situation;

6.  Condemns all violence and attempts or threats to use violence to intimidate those participating in UN-brokered consultations; emphasises that the UN-brokered inclusive political dialogue must be a Yemeni-led process, with the intention of brokering a consensus‑based political solution to Yemen’s crisis in accordance with the GCC initiative and its Implementation Mechanism, the outcomes of the comprehensive National Dialogue Conference, the Peace and National Partnership Agreement and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions;

7.  Condemns in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS/Da’esh against Shiite mosques in Sana’a and Saada, which killed and wounded hundreds of people, together with the spread of the extreme sectarian ideology underpinning these criminal acts;

8.  Is alarmed at AQAP’s ability to benefit from the deteriorating political and security situation in Yemen; urges all parties to the conflict to demonstrate firm commitment and a determination to fight extremist and terrorist groups such as ISIS/Da’esh and AQAP as a matter of the highest priority;

9.  Condemns the recruitment and use of children by the parties to the conflict;

10.  Expresses its full support for the efforts of the UN and of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, to broker peace negotiations between the parties; supports Oman’s efforts in achieving a ceasefire between the Houthis and forces loyal to the Government of Yemen as a first step towards a negotiated political solution;

11.  Stresses that there can only be a political, inclusive and negotiated solution to the conflict; urges all Yemeni parties, therefore, to work towards resolving their differences through dialogue, compromise and power-sharing, leading to the formation of a government of national unity in order to restore peace, avoid economic and financial collapse and address the humanitarian crisis;

12.  Calls for a humanitarian pause in order to allow life-saving assistance to reach the Yemeni people as a matter of urgency; urges all parties to facilitate the urgent delivery of humanitarian assistance to all parts of Yemen, as well as rapid, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian actors to reach people in need of humanitarian assistance, including medical assistance, in accordance with the principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence; recalls, also, that it is therefore essential that commercial shipping access to Yemen be further eased;

13.  Calls on all sides to comply with international humanitarian law and international human rights law, to ensure the protection of civilians and to refrain from the direct targeting of civilian infrastructure, in particular medical facilities and water systems, and from using civilian buildings for military purposes, and to work with the UN and humanitarian aid organisations, as a matter of urgency, to deliver assistance to those in need;

14.  Stresses the need for coordinated humanitarian action under UN leadership, and urges all countries to contribute to addressing humanitarian needs; calls on the international community to contribute to the UN’s revised humanitarian appeal;

15.  Calls for the independent international investigation of all alleged violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law;

16.  Notes the progress made in the Constitution Drafting Committee and calls for an inclusive, transparent constitution which meets the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people and reflects the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference, and for a referendum on the draft constitution to be held, as well as timely general elections, in order to avoid a further deterioration of the humanitarian and security situation in Yemen;

17.  Recalls that freedom of religion and belief is a fundamental right, and strongly condemns any violence or discrimination on the basis of religion and belief in Yemen; reiterates its support for all initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue and mutual respect between religious and other communities; calls on all religious authorities to promote tolerance and to take initiatives against hatred, sectarianism and violent and extremist radicalisation;

18.  Calls on the VP/HR, together with the Member States, to gather support within the UN, as a matter of urgency, for a grand international plan to secure Yemen’s water supply, since such a move could be essential in bringing a potential peace process to a successful conclusion and giving the population the prospect of being able to improve agriculture, feed themselves and rebuild the country;

19.  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.

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