Yemen: European Parliament adopts a Resolution on the situation in Yemen

The European Parliament (EP) adopted during the plenary session of the October 4th, a resolution on the situation in Yemen. The UN-brokered negotiations, established to find a political solution, have not yet led to substantial progress, this has led the EP to further engage itself on this situation. Members of the EP (MEPs) called for a comprehensive EU strategy on Yemen: international and regional actors to commit constructively with Yemeni parties to allow a de-escalation of the conflict and a negotiated agreement.

In Yemen, the ongoing conflict has entered its fourth year and more than 22 million people need humanitarian support and 8.4 million are on the verge of starvation, 130 children under the age of five die each day from preventable causes. More than 16,000 coalition strikes have been identified, targeting civilian infrastructure, such as hospitals. Since early in 2015, forces loyal to the internationally-recognized government have been fighting Houthis Shia rebels. In March 2015, Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi called for help and a coalition led by Saudi Arabia responded by launching air strikes on Houthi targets. The coalition comprises five Gulf Arab states, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Sudan and is backed by the USA and the UK.

The current fragmentation of the conflict is a clear sign of the erosion of state unity carrying grave risks for the stability of the region. The ceasefire negotiations led by the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, resulted in a temporary cessation of the offensive and the latest attempt to hold peace talks in Geneva have collapsed with an increase of 164% of civilian deaths. The Houthi rebel forces and the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has been a big contributor, and cause, to such dire situation and are directly involved in breaches of international humanitarian law and unlawful killing of civilians and medical staff, parties always considered neutral during international armed conflicts: the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights affirmed that to reasonable grounds to believe that all parties to the conflict in Yemen have committed war crimes.

The resolution asks all parties to the conflict to cease hostilities, to lift the ongoing blockade and to contribute to find a way to de-escalation and immediately end political, military and financial support to military actors involved in the conflict. In the text there is reference to the trade of arms: on one hand the embargo against the Iranian backed Houthi rebels is in place and on the other hand EU Member States continues to authorize transfers of arms to Saudi Arabia according to the 18th EU Annual Report on Arms Exports. The Parliament has repeatedly called on the HR/VP to launch an initiative imposing an EU arms and military equipment embargo on Saudi Arabia, the UAE and all members of the international coalition, in respect of the common position of the Council of 2008 defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment.

During the plenary, many MEPs underlined the need of an embargo on arms trade and military equipment to all parties involved in the conflict and begin an effective political dialogue among actors to find a sustainable solution. On behalf of the ALDE Group, Marietje Schaake urgently calls the EU and Members States to extend the embargo to Saudi Arabia. The same position to stop the provision of arms to parties is shared by Angela Vallina, for the GUE Group.

ECDHR calls on the EU and its Member States to appeal to all parties of the conflicts to take part of the political dialogue in order to find a sustainable solution of one of the worst humanitarian-crisis world-wire and make all parties to the conflict accountable for their violations of humanitarian law. The situation continues to worsen and the international community should undertake concreate actions such an arm embargo imposing restrictions to all parties of the conflict including the international coalition. Furthermore, the EU and its Member States should priorities human rights ensuring humanitarian aid and access to vital goods, respect of international standards on detainees, and pressure all parties of the conflict to cease attacks on civilian and civilian objects.

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