Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Questions (18)

Niall Collins

Question:

18. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of the situation in Yemen; the recent steps taken by the EU and the international community to address the ongoing instability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40767/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The ongoing crisis in Yemen remains extremely worrying. Ireland and the EU have been clear from the beginning that this situation can only be solved by political means, and that efforts to impose a military solution will be both fruitless and dangerous. We fully support the efforts of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, to bring about a political resolution, starting with the implementation of the December 2018 Stockholm Agreement, which was signed by the Government of Yemen and the Houthi de facto authorities.

Despite the positive sign which the Stockholm conference represented, recent months have seen continued violence. Coalition airstrikes in Dhamar province on 1 September killed dozens of people, and Ireland fully supports the EU statement in response to that attack. Mr Griffiths reported in September that there has been some progress on the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement, with discussions taking place in Hodeidah on practical issues such as ceasefire enhancement, disengagement from the frontlines and the redeployment of forces. The release of underage prisoners by the Government of Yemen and the Coalition, and the release of 300 prisoners by the Houthi de facto authorities, represent positive steps. The UN Special Envoy was in Sana’a last week for further discussions.

The opening of a new front in August 2019 around the southern port city of Aden, with the outbreak of fighting between former allies the Government of Yemen and the Southern Transitional Council, is a worrying development in what was already a multifaceted and extremely complex conflict. I support efforts to mediate between the two sides in this new situation.

EU Foreign Ministers discussed the situation in Yemen twice this year, and our support for the UN process has been unequivocal. UNSE Griffiths has thanked the EU for its support in getting the parties to the table and sustaining the political pressure, saying it would not have been possible to reach agreement in Stockholm without the EU.

The EU is the largest donor to the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM). UNVIM was established in May 2016 to facilitate more efficient verification that imports of commercial goods at Yemen's ports do not contain arms. Following the Stockholm Agreement, UNVIM has also been assigned the role of supporting the Yemen Red Sea Ports Corporation in the management and inspection of ports. The UNVIM operation is making an important contribution to ensuring the continued flow of commercial goods to Yemen.

This conflict has had devastating humanitarian effects, with almost 80% of the population of Yemen in need of humanitarian assistance. The EU is a very significant donor to Yemen, and has contributed over €700 million in development and humanitarian assistance to the country since the crisis began in 2015, of which €440 million was humanitarian aid. In addition to contributing our national share to these EU funds, on a bilateral basis Ireland has provided €21.5 million in humanitarian assistance in Yemen since 2015.

Ireland's positions on the need for a political solution, on humanitarian access, and on attacks against civilians and violations of international humanitarian law, have been very clearly conveyed to Saudi Arabia, UAE, and to Iran, which has given support to the Houthi de facto authorities. Ireland, the UN, the EU and the wider international community will continue to work to alleviate the humanitarian crisis and press for a political solution for the people of Yemen.