I am extremely concerned about the current situation in Yemen. Three years of war have had devastating consequences for civilians, with allegations of violations of human rights, international humanitarian law, and significant loss of life. Three quarters of the population are estimated to require some form of humanitarian assistance.
At the Foreign Affairs Council in December last year, 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.
Ireland has also worked in the UN system to address our grave concerns about human rights in Yemen. 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. The resolution established a group of international experts to examine the facts in relation to violations of human rights and humanitarian law on the ground. This group will report back to the Human Rights Council later this year, as an important step towards accountability in Yemen.
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 have passed on to the Saudi Embassy in Dublin my strong concerns in relation to humanitarian access. They also conveyed my condemnation of missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, which also have the potential to impact on civilians. There have also been EU contacts with Saudi Arabia in relation to concerns about civilians in Yemen.
The food security situation in Yemen is very severe. Last month, at a UN Pledging Conference in Geneva, Ireland pledged to provide €4 million in humanitarian funding in response to the crisis in Yemen in 2018, bringing Ireland’s total humanitarian assistance to Yemen to almost €16.5 million since 2012. Ireland also contributes to EU support for Yemen, and since the beginning of the conflict in 2015, the EU has contributed a total of €438.2 million to Yemen, which includes humanitarian, development, stabilisation and resilience support.
I believe that 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. Ireland fully supports the efforts of the new UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths and his team, who are working towards a peace agreement. I hope that EU Foreign Ministers will meet with him soon, so that we can discuss how we can most effectively support his efforts.
I would like to assure the Deputy that Ireland will continue to take every appropriate opportunity to urge stronger international action, and will press for a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Yemen, as well as respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, and improved humanitarian access.