Motion for a resolution on the humanitarian situation in Yemen – B8-2017-0411

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Yemen, in particular those of 25 February 2016(1) on the humanitarian situation in Yemen and of 9 July 2015(2) on the situation in Yemen,

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

–  having regard to the UN Security Council resolutions on Yemen, in particular Resolutions 2216 (2015), 2201 (2015) and 2140 (2014),

–  having regard to the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen held on 25 April 2017 in Geneva,

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

A.  whereas the current crisis in Yemen is a result of the 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 by systematically ignoring the country’s many inequalities and widespread insecurity;

B.  whereas the consequences of the ongoing conflict are devastating for the country and its population; whereas, in spite of the international calls for a political solution to the crisis, the parties to the conflict have failed to reach a settlement and the fighting continues;

C.  whereas the number of civilian casualties continues to increase, and whereas Yemen’s civilian infrastructure and institutions have been heavily affected by the war and are increasingly unable to deliver basic services; whereas the health system is on the verge of collapse and key frontline medical workers have not been paid in months;

D.  whereas Yemen is experiencing a second outbreak of cholera and acute watery diarrhoea (AWD), which has led to over 100 000 suspected cholera cases and has killed almost 800 people between 27 April and 8 June 2017 across the country;

E.  whereas the situation in Yemen carries grave risks for the stability of the region, in particular that of the Horn of Africa, the Red Sea and the wider Middle East; 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; whereas AQAP and the so-called Islamic State (ISIS)/Daesh has established its presence in Yemen and has carried out terrorist attacks, killing hundreds of people;

F.  whereas the humanitarian situation in Yemen is catastrophic; whereas in February 2017 the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) declared the situation inYemen the ‘largest food security emergency in the world’; whereas, as of May 2017, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated that 17 million people in Yemen required food assistance, with 7 million of that number facing a ‘food security emergency’; whereas there are 2.2 million children suffering severe acute malnourishment, with one child dying every ten minutes of preventable causes;

G.  whereas imports account for almost 90 % of the country’s staple foods; whereas the ongoing conflict has severely hampered commercial imports and humanitarian aid deliveries from reaching Yemen, in particular as a result of the de facto blockade of Hodeida port; whereas violence within the country and widespread fuel shortages have disrupted internal food distribution networks;

H.  whereas, despite the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen which took place in Geneva in April and during which various countries and organisations made pledges amounting to USD 1.1 billion, as of 9 May 2017, donors had delivered funds amounting to only 18.3 % of the United Nation’s USD 2.1 billion humanitarian appeal for Yemen for 2017;

I.  whereas Parliament called in a previous resolution for an initiative aimed at imposing an EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia, given the serious allegations of breaches of international humanitarian law by this country in Yemen and in line with Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008; whereas the Houthi rebels are supported by Iran;

1.  Expresses grave concern at the alarming deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Yemen, which is characterised by widespread food insecurity and severe malnutrition, indiscriminate attacks against civilians and medical and aid workers, the destruction of civilian and medical infrastructure, the continuation of airstrikes, ground level fighting and shelling, despite repeated calls for a renewed cessation of hostilities; deeply regrets the loss of life caused by the conflict and the suffering of those caught up in the fighting, and expresses its condolences to the families of the victims; reaffirms its commitment to continuing to support Yemen and the Yemeni people;

2.  Expresses grave concern that the continuing airstrikes and ground-level fighting have led to thousands of civilian deaths, displacement and a loss of livelihoods putting more lives at risk, have further destabilised Yemen, are destroying the country’s physical infrastructure, have created instability which has been exploited by terrorist and extremist organisations such as ISIS/Daesh and AQAP, and have exacerbated an already critical humanitarian situation;

3.  Condemns all terror attacks and violence against civilians in the strongest terms; urges the Government of Yemen to assume its responsibilities in the fight against ISIS/Daesh and AQAP, which are taking advantage of the current instability; emphasises the need for all parties to the conflict to take resolute action against such groups, whose activities represent a grave threat to a negotiated settlement and the security of the region and beyond;

4.  Recalls that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Yemen and that the crisis can only be solved through an inclusive, Yemeni-led negotiation process, involving all the parties concerned, with the full and meaningful participation of women, leading to an inclusive political solution; restates its support for the efforts of the European External Action Service to facilitate a resumption of negotiations, and urges all parties to the conflict to react in a constructive manner and without attaching preconditions to these efforts; emphasises that the implementation of confidence-building measures such as immediate steps towards a sustainable ceasefire, a mechanism for a monitored withdrawal of forces, facilitation of humanitarian and commercial access and the release of political prisoners is essential to facilitating a return to the political track;

5.  Calls on all parties to urgently agree on a cessation of hostilities to be monitored by the United Nations as a first step towards the resumption of peace talks under UN leadership; calls also on all international and regional actors to engage constructively with Yemeni parties to enable a de-escalation of the conflict and a negotiated settlement that respects the independence, unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yemen; stresses, in this context, the crucial role that the EU in particular can play in facilitating efforts towards a peace process and in the post-conflict situation;

6.  Strongly condemns attacks against civilians, including bombardments, the use of cluster munitions, rocket, shelling, sniper fire and missile attacks and the reported use of anti-personnel mines as well as attacks causing the destruction of civilian infrastructure, including schools, medical facilities, residential areas, markets, water systems, ports and airports; renews its urgent call on all parties to the conflict to ensure the protection of civilians, respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law; calls for an international independent investigation into all allegations of abuse, torture, targeted killing of civilians and other violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law; stresses that ensuring accountability for violations is indispensable to achieving a lasting settlement of the conflict;

7.  Calls on all parties to the conflict to work to remove all logistical and financial obstacles affecting the import and distribution of food and medical supplies to civilians in need; urges, in particular, the parties to ensure the full and effective functioning of major commercial entry points, such as the ports of Hodeida and Aden; stresses their importance as a lifeline for humanitarian support and essential supplies; calls for a reopening of Sana’a airport for commercial flights so that urgently needed medicine and commodities can be flown in and Yemenis in need of medical treatment can be flown out;

8.  Is alarmed that the conflict has resulted in an increase in incidents along Yemen’s Red Sea coast, endangering maritime trade; calls on all parties to ensure freedom of navigation in this crucial international shipping route;

9.  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 the EU of the rules laid down in Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP on arms exports; stresses the importance of upholding the existing accountability mechanisms such as the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights investigation report and the UN children and armed conflict listing mechanism;

10.  Urges all parties to work towards a united and fully functioning Central Bank of Yemen, and stresses that international aid funds should be directed to support Yemen’s foreign exchanges reserves, in order to facilitate food and medical imports;

11.  Stresses the importance of empowering local authorities and building their capacity in service delivery, as well as engaging the Yemeni diaspora and international NGOs in supporting critical service sectors; underlines, in particular, the urgent need for the EU and other international actors to address the cholera outbreak and support the health system in order to prevent its collapse, including facilitating supplies and salary payments for frontline medical workers who are critical to the humanitarian response;

12.  Calls on countries and organisations that made pledges at the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen held in Geneva in April 2017 to quickly honour these pledges and increase their commitment to ensuring a fully funded humanitarian response plan presented by the UN;

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.