I am extremely concerned about the current situation in Yemen, which is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. The war has now been ongoing for over one thousand days, and has had devastating consequences for civilians, with allegations of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and significant loss of life.
I have not met with any Saudi Ministerial counterparts since taking up my role as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade last year. However, my predecessor, Minister Flanagan, raised concerns about the conduct of the war in Yemen and the humanitarian impact with Ministerial counterparts in Saudi Arabia and UAE on a number of occasions. More recently, officials from my Department met with the Saudi Embassy in Dublin late last year, and passed on my strong concerns in relation to humanitarian access. There have also been EU contacts with Saudi Arabia on this issue. At the Foreign Affairs Council on 11 December, I urged stronger EU action on humanitarian access in Yemen, and I will continue to raise these concerns with all appropriate interlocutors whenever opportunities arise.
At the Human Rights Council in September 2017, Ireland was part of a small core group of countries that drove forward the adoption by consensus of a Resolution on Yemen. This Resolution established a group of eminent international and regional experts to carry out a comprehensive investigation of all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights since September 2014. In December 2017, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights announced the names and appointment of its members. The Group is expected to travel to Yemen soon and, as per the Resolution, will report back to the Human Rights Council in September of this year on its findings. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my full support for the work of the Eminent Experts, and my commitment to ensuring accountability for all violations and abuses that have taken place in Yemen.
Ireland has also provided over €11 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen since 2015, and we are committed to maintaining support. Furthermore, the EU is the largest humanitarian donor to Yemen and has provided over €170 million in aid since the conflict began, to which Ireland contributes via the EU Development Budget. I believe that the only way to bring about a long-term sustainable improvement in the situation for the Yemeni people is through a negotiated end to this conflict, and Ireland fully supports UN efforts in this regard.