April 19, 2017

Following Mattis Visit, Young Calls on Saudi Government to Help Alleviate Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen

This week, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis visited Saudi Arabia and discussed the situation in Yemen. In an interview, Mattis noted “the number of innocent people dying inside Yemen” and emphasized the need to seek a political solution to the conflict in Yemen without delay. According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), more than seventeen million people in Yemen-approximately 60% of the country’s population-are food insecure, including roughly seven million people who are unable to survive without food assistance. A large majority of food, fuel, and medical supplies that enter Yemen enter through the Red Sea port of Hodeidah. A military operation that resulted in the closure of the Hodeidah port would dramatically exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and would likely result in a famine within a few months. In response, U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement:

“In addition to supporting Secretary Mattis’ call for a political settlement, I call on our Saudi partners to take specific steps to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Yemen that is fueling instability and making a political settlement more difficult. As the international community seeks a political settlement in Yemen, I urge our Saudi partners to 1) refrain from bombing the port of Hodeidah; 2) reform its inspection regime at the port of Hodeidah to eliminate unacceptable delays in the delivery of severely needed humanitarian supplies; and 3) facilitate the delivery of U.S.-funded World Food Programme cranes to the port of Hodeidah that would dramatically increase the port’s humanitarian aid capacity,” said Senator Young.

He continued, “Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has exploited the conflict in Yemen to threaten the U.S. and our allies, and Iran has exploited the conflict to promote sectarianism and sow instability. Meanwhile, millions of innocent people in Yemen are at risk of starvation largely as result of the conflict. The United States and Saudi Arabia should continue to aggressively oppose Iran’s destabilizing activities in Yemen, but we can pursue that necessary objective while also helping the people of Yemen who are in desperate need of assistance. Any military campaign or political settlement that ignores the plight of the Yemeni people is destined for failure.”

On March 23, Senator Young led a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Ranking Member Cardin (D-MD) urging action to address humanitarian crises in northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen. On April 5, Senator Young introduced a resolution calling for an urgent and comprehensive diplomatic effort to address political obstacles that are preventing humanitarian aid from reaching people who desperately need it in those four countries.

Senator Todd Young is the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy.