As humanitarian, human rights and peacebuilding organizations working on Yemen, we welcome tomorrow’s unprecedented coming together of legislators from across nations and parties for the first International Parliamentary Conference for Peace in Yemen to demand their governments work together to end the crisis. With 14 million men, women and children on the brink of famine – half the country’s population – there has never been a more urgent time to act.
We call on governments to secure an immediate cessation of hostilities, suspend the supply of arms at risk of being used in Yemen, guarantee unimpeded access and movement for vital imports, condemn any attacks on civilians and other violations of international humanitarian law by any party and support international investigations into these violations, including the work of UN Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen.
Events in recent weeks have added to a long list of examples of disregard by Saudi Arabia for the international rules-based system and have brought renewed focus on the need for the international community, particularly the US, the UK and France, to reassess their partnerships with Riyadh. Any supporter of and arms supplier to the Saudi-Emirati-led coalition bears a special moral and legal responsibility to ensure that the coalition complies with international humanitarian law in Yemen. In light of the ongoing unlawful attacks against civilians by all parties in Yemen, widely documented by the UN Group of Eminent Experts, we add our voices to those of over one million of the global public and reiterate the call we have been making for years to all governments to suspend the supply of all arms at risk of being used in Yemen.
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is manmade and a direct consequence of the warring parties’ severe restrictions on access to food, fuel, medical imports and humanitarian aid. The collapse of the Yemeni Rial and the non- payment of public sector workers is adding to the catastrophe. In addition, civilian deaths have increased dramatically in recent months – with 450 civilians killed in just 9 days in August – and violence against women and girls has risen significantly since the conflict escalated. We call on governments to redouble their efforts to guarantee unimpeded access to essential items, including fuel, in and throughout Yemen, including through the lifeline port of Hodeidah, where civilians have been caught in renewed fighting over the past few days. Any indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructures, and other violations of international humanitarian law by any party should be publicly condemned by the international community.
Parliamentarians have a special responsibility to represent the voice of their constituents and hold their governments to account. On the eve of the inaugural Paris Peace Forum convened by President Macron to promote peace and improve global governance, we hope this conference will be a wake-up call. There is no military solution to the war in Yemen. Only an inclusive peace process can solve the humanitarian crisis.
After almost four years of conflict, Yemenis can’t wait any longer.
List of signatory organizations: