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.
The EU has been clear from the beginning that the crisis in Yemen can only be solved by political means. Ireland and the EU fully support the efforts of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, to bring about a political resolution, including his efforts to ensure implementation of the 2018 Stockholm Agreement between the Government of Yemen and the Houthi de facto authorities. 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.
Despite the positive sign which the Stockholm conference last December represented, recent months have seen continued violence. The opening of a new front in August in the southern port city of Aden is a worrying development in what was already a multifaceted and extremely complex conflict. Coalition airstrikes in Dhamar province on 1 September killed dozens of people, and Ireland fully supports the EU statement in response to that attack. Ireland's position on attacks against civilians and violations of international humanitarian law has been very clearly conveyed to Saudi Arabia.
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, including €440 million in humanitarian aid alone. 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 2012.
Ireland, the UN, the EU and the wider international community will continue to play an important role in attempting to alleviate the humanitarian crisis and facilitate a political solution for the people of Yemen.