Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Questions (57)

Catherine Connolly


57. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade further to Parliamentary Question No. 52 of 29 January 2019, the assessment he has made of the extent to which arms supplied by Saudi Arabia are reaching terrorist groups in Yemen; the assessment made of the recent peace talks between the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Yemen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37460/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The crisis in Yemen is a matter of grave concern, and a solution is urgent. More than four years into the conflict, Yemen is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with almost 80% of the population in need of humanitarian assistance. Ireland supports the efforts of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths to bring about a political resolution to the crisis in Yemen, including his efforts to ensure implementation of the 2018 Stockholm agreement between the Government of Yemen and the Houthi de facto authorities.

I am very conscious that this is a multifaceted and extremely complex conflict, involving a number of local, regional and international power struggles, often rooted in Yemen’s historical divisions. The persistence of the conflict risks leading to further fragmentation, and I support efforts to resolve these issues. Unfortunately, recent efforts in Saudi Arabia involving the Government of Yemen and southern militia groups do not appear to have made progress.

Ireland has raised concerns about the situation in Yemen in our bilateral contacts with a number of third states which are involved in the conflict there, including Saudi Arabia and UAE, and also Iran. In these contacts, we have emphasised the need for an end to human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law, and for full and unfettered humanitarian access. Most recently, for example, my officials raised our concerns about the situation in Yemen with the Saudi Ambassador in Ireland, during a meeting held last week.

Illicit and irresponsible arms flows fuel violence and organised crime, terrorism and conflicts, thwarting sustainable development and crisis management efforts. Ireland does not have our own independent sources of information on illicit arms flows to non-state actors in Yemen, but we support international efforts to tackle and monitor illicit arms flows, through our support for the effective implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty, the 2018 EU Strategy on Small Arms and Light Weapons and the EU sponsored iTrace project. All EU member states have signed up to the Arms Trade Treaty, which exists to ensure that arms sales do not fuel conflicts, and to prevent arms from falling into the hands of non-state actors.

Those countries which do have arms industries have a particular responsibility to ensure that arms do not ultimately fall into the wrong hands. If arms sold to Saudi Arabia have fallen into the hands of terrorists or non-state actors, obviously this would be a matter of deep concern.

Ireland takes every opportunity to press for a political solution to the crisis in Yemen, and for an end to violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and for unfettered humanitarian access to Yemen. Since 2012, Ireland has provided over €22 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen, including a contribution of €5 million this year. Ireland will continue to do what we can to assist the political and humanitarian effort in Yemen, through supporting the efforts of the UN, as well as advocating for an end to the conflict in our bilateral contacts.