London, UK, January 30, 2020 — Frank McManus, IRC Yemen Director, said:
"Foreign Secretary Raab and Secretary of State Pompeo’s discussion of the crisis in Yemen, as he concludes his UK visit, could not be more timely. With conflict escalating in Marib, east of the Houthi controlled capital Sana’a, and reports of possible missile attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s embryonic peace process is once again under threat. All efforts should now be focused on securing a return of warring parties to UN led negotiations.
At the end of 2019 Yemen appeared to be at a crossroads: localised ceasefire proposals, prisoner releases, newly invigorated diplomatic back-channels, declining airstrikes, and the Riyadh power sharing agreement provided hope for progress towards a political settlement. With this fragile progress now in the balance the UK and US should lead efforts to recapture this opportunity and assert their commitment to the Middle East. Yemen should be reinstated as a primary foreign policy priority and all diplomatic tools should be applied to incentivise the parties to launch an immediate nationwide ceasefire and return to inclusive, meaningful peace talks.
The IRC has warned of the costs of failure. If peace is not secured and progress in addressing malnutrition cannot be built upon, it will be 20 years before Yemen returns to pre-crisis levels of child hunger: already amongst the highest in the world.
A return to peace talks must be combined with concerted efforts to address the impediments to humanitarian programming experienced across the country. Today 83 NGO projects cannot be delivered due to bureaucratic impediments to assistance delivery. That’s 4.9 million people who cannot access aid. Not because of fighting but due to policy decisions. Decisions that can be reversed.
Yemeni civilians have suffered almost five years of brutal conflict. They deserve relief - relief that that warring parties are able to provide."
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue-uk.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.