I continue to be gravely concerned about the ongoing crisis in Yemen. Over four years of conflict have resulted in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with the country’s economy decimated and millions on the brink of famine. It is vital that we continue to push for a political resolution to the conflict that is driving this crisis. Ireland supports the efforts of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, to bring about such a resolution, including his efforts to ensure implementation of the 2018 Stockholm agreement between the Government of Yemen and the Houthi de facto authorities.
While the UN Special Envoy is mandated to focus his mediation efforts on the two main parties to the conflict, there are many other armed groups operating in Yemen and controlling a patchwork of areas across the country. I was very concerned to hear of a new front opening up in August in the southern port city of Aden, where forces who had previously fought against the Houthis have attacked government forces.
I wish every success to efforts to promote negotiations between the Government of Yemen and southern militia groups, and I regret that the recent talks in Saudi Arabia have not yet led to success.
In addition to the humanitarian crisis, the persistence of widespread human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law is particularly worrying. I have put Ireland at the centre of UN efforts to prepare the ground for accountability in the long term for what has occurred in Yemen. Ireland is a member of the core group which helped establish the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen at the Human Rights Council in September 2017. The Group’s second report, released earlier this month, makes for sobering reading with conditions on the ground in Yemen having worsened. There continues to be a lack of accountability for the gross violations of international law committed by all sides. Ireland will push for a renewal of the Group’s mandate at the Human Rights Council so that it can continue to carry out its vital work in recording and reporting on these violations.
Ireland has communicated its concerns about the situation in Yemen directly to the Saudi Arabian and UAE authorities on numerous occasions. In February 2019, I relayed Ireland’s strong views directly to the Saudi Ambassador, particularly on the safety of civilians and humanitarian access. Senior officials from my Department again conveyed Ireland's concerns to the Saudi Ambassador in a meeting last week.
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.