UN Security Council: The Humanitarian situation in Yemen (7622nd meeting)

The situation in the Middle East (Yemen)
Briefing by Mr. Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on the humanitarian situation in Yemen.



(Start watching at 2:00 minutes)

UNOCHA chief Stephen O'Brien provides updated data on humanitarian catastrophe. Stresses that all parties to the conflict are hindering humanitarian access. O'Brien notes in particular that while access to Ta'iz has improved since the January peace talks, Houthi forces are still delaying and blocking much of the aid sent there. Also emphasizes that Saudi Arabia's recent "warning" to the UN and NGOs has had a major negative impact on the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Saudi Arabia Warns the UN and Aid Workers in Yemen

Article for Vice News by Samuel Oakford:

The Saudi government has sent letters to the United Nations and to aid agencies operating in Yemen, stating that they should leave areas under Houthi control in order to be safe from bombing, VICE News can reveal.

An initial letter was sent by the Saudi mission in Geneva on February 5 to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The "note verbale" — French for "verbal note," a kind of diplomatic communication — requested that OCHA "notify all the international organizations working in Yemen about the necessity of relocating their headquarters outside the military operations areas to be away from regions where the Houthi militias and the groups belonging to them are activating, in order for the Coalition forces to guarantee the safety and security of the international organizations." A similar letter, addressed to "International Organisations and their employees," and marked "urgent," was sent out on the same day by the Saudi embassy in London.

Houthi rebels and their allies loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh control areas where the majority of Yemen's population lives, including the capital Sanaa, where most aid organizations and UN operations are headquartered.

Read the full article here

MY COMMENT
This is very worrying. In their next assault on Sanaa, the Saudis want no foreign observers on the ground. They have also just bombed Sanaa's Nehm exchange, seriously degrading Yemen's internet connection to the outside world. They want to silence Yemeni witnesses by cutting them off from the outside world, and kick out the foreign witnesses. This should raise major alarm bells in governments around the world!

90 Seconds: Leaked UN panel report on Yemen

Summary video by Middle East Eye:



Yemen: Is Peace Possible?

Report by CrisisGroup.org:

Nearly a year on, there is no end in sight to Yemen’s war. The conflict pits Ansar Allah (Huthi) rebels and military units allied with ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh against a diverse mix of opponents, including what remains of the government of President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, backed by a Saudi-led coalition supported by the U.S., the UK and France. Ending the war requires negotiations leading to an interim settlement that must include security arrangements providing for militia withdrawal from cities, a return to the political process pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and agreement on a transitional leadership. While these are matters for Yemeni parties to decide during UN-sponsored negotiations, Saudi Arabia’s buy-in will be essential, spooked as the kingdom is by what it perceives as an Iranian hand behind the Huthis and their attacks on Saudi territory. Reaching agreement will take time, a luxury Yemenis do not have. The immediate priority thus should be to secure agreement on delivering humanitarian aid and commercial goods to war-torn, besieged areas.

Read the full report here

(This report attempts to explain the reasons behind the Yemen conflict, the various parties involved, and suggested steps each of these parties should take to facilitate a negotiated peace settlement)

MPs call for immediate halt of UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Article for theguardian by Patrick Wintour:

An all-party group of MPs has called for an immediate suspension of UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia and an international independent inquiry into the kingdom’s military campaign in Yemen.

The call from the international development select committee follows evidence from aid agencies to MPs warning that Saudi Arabia was involved in indiscriminate bombing of its neighbour.

The UK government has supplied export licences for close to £3bn worth of arms to Saudi Arabia in the last year, the committee said, and has also been accused of being involved in the conduct and administration of the Saudi campaign in Yemen.

In their letter to the international development secretary, Justine Greening, it urged the UK to withdraw opposition to an independent international inquiry into alleged abuses of humanitarian law in Yemen.

Read the full article here

View the International Development Committee's report here

Watch the 27 January International Development Committee's enquiry sessions on my Parliament page