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Press Release

Yemen: Positive step for the people as withdrawal from Hodeidah promised

  • Promised withdrawal from Hodeidah port a positive step for the people of Yemen and the prospects for peace;
  • More than 24 million people remain in need of humanitarian aid in the country;
  • Violence continues on the frontlines including around Al Dhale’e where civilians are caught in the crossfire, including airstrikes which reportedly destroyed a school yesterday;
  • The International Rescue Committee is working to support more than a million Yemenis across the country with lifesaving support.

Today’s commitment by the Houthis that they will withdraw their forces from the key port of Hodeidah as well as the ports of Saleef and Ras Issa is welcomed by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) who are working in Yemen providing lifesaving aid to more than a million people across the country.

Kurt Tjossen, IRC’s Regional Director for the Horn and East Africa said:

“If the Houthis do move forward with this promised withdrawal from the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef, and Ras Issa, it would be a long-awaited positive step forward for the people of Yemen and for the implementation of the Stockholm agreement signed in December 2018. The port is a lifeline for the people of Yemen, 24 million of whom rely on lifesaving aid. It is critical that the force redeployments  move forward and are verified and are followed by sustained commitment by all parties to make good on their Stockholm obligations.

“The commitments made today are testament to the tireless work of the UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffith and his team. It is critical that this opportunity should now be used to create momentum for further negotiations towards a nationwide ceasefire and political settlement to this war which is now in its fifth year.

“It is vital to remember that progress in Hodeidah is necessary but not sufficient. Across numerous frontlines in the war in Yemen people remain in danger. Fighting in Al Dhale’e governorate is one example of the risks that innocent Yemeni civilians face from ongoing violence perpetrated by all sides in the conflict. Only yesterday our team received reports of a school in North Qaatabah which was reportedly destroyed by an airstrike. This demonstrates the very real danger civilians are facing on a daily basis and the ongoing neglect of international humanitarian law in Yemen’s war.

“This ongoing violence and impediments to the delivery of humanitarian aid continue to undermine efforts to reach civilians most in need. Last week the IRC was forced to relocate critical life-saving works and is re-adjusting its programming to respond to increased needs in Al Dhale’e. The situation remains highly volatile.

“Focused, engaged diplomacy yielded the breakthrough in Stockholm. It is now vital that sustained international diplomatic pressure is maintained to bring warring parties back to the negotiating table to secure commitments to avoid the collapse of this breakthrough deal and build on it toward a nationwide ceasefire and a political settlement. The allies of the Saudi and Emirati led Coalition, including the U.S. and U.K. have a critical role to play.

“With the country on the verge of famine the stakes could not be higher. Put simply: Yemen and innocent Yemeni civilians cannot wait a moment longer.”  

The IRC has been working in Yemen since 2012 and rapidly scaled our programming in 2015 to address greater humanitarian need caused by the conflict. While the ongoing conflict and restrictions of air and seaports create challenges to our operations, the IRC has maintained access to affected populations in and continues to provide life-saving healthcare, economic empowerment, women’s protection and empowerment, and education programming.

Learn more about the IRC's work in Yemen.


About the IRC

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.