Dear Foreign Secretary,
As humanitarian aid organisations working in Yemen, we were encouraged by your recent announcement that the UK will pursue Security Council action to support the peace process in Yemen. This followed last week’s long over-due call for a cessation of hostilities in Yemen by Secretary of Defense Mattis and Secretary of State Pompeo.
With 14 million children, women and men – half the country’s population – on the brink of famine, there has never been a more urgent time to act. What the country needs most right now is an immediate end to the fighting. We call on the UK, as pen holder on Yemen at the United Nations, to take the lead and table a new UN Security Council Resolution as soon as possible to push warring parties towards a peaceful solution. This should start with a call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and a comprehensive ceasefire across the whole of Yemen.
The catastrophic food shortages in Yemen are entirely human made and a direct consequence of the warring parties’ severe restrictions on access to food, fuel, medical imports and humanitarian aid. The collapse of the Yemeni Rial and the non-payment of public sector workers is adding to the tragic situation.
Civilian deaths have increased dramatically in recent months – with 450 civilians killed in just nine days in August. Violence against women and girls has also risen significantly since the conflict escalated.
Beyond calls for a ceasefire, we call on the UK Government to use its influence to urge parties to the conflict to end violations against civilians, and to agree to concrete measures to address the humanitarian situation. This includes removing obstructions to vital humanitarian and commercial access, and agreeing on a plan to pay public sector salaries.
The situation in Yemen is the most severe humanitarian disaster on the planet right now. Should nothing change, the UN warns that the country will face the worst famine in a generation. Recent calls by the US Government for a cessation of hostilities are a welcome recognition that current policy is failing and presents a significant opportunity to focus efforts on a political solution. Given the UK’s power and influence, and your commitments to upholding our country’s values, you have a unique opportunity to show leadership and deliver a lasting peace for Yemen’s beleaguered civilian population.