April 13, 2018

Senators Introduce Bill That Seeks to End Yemen Civil War and Address World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Today, U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Chris Coons (D-Del.) announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation, S.J.Res.58, that seeks to end the civil war in Yemen and alleviate the “world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster.” The legislation would require the Department of State to repeatedly certify that the Government of Saudi Arabia is taking urgent steps to end the civil war in Yemen, alleviate the humanitarian crisis, and reduce the risk to civilians. If the Department of State cannot make these written, detailed, and unclassified certifications, the legislation would prohibit U.S. air refueling for Saudi-led coalition aircraft conducting missions exclusively focused on the civil war in Yemen.  

Senator Young said, “Our values and our national security interests demand that we take additional action to improve the horrible humanitarian conditions in Yemen and end the civil war. The longer the civil war continues, the worse the humanitarian crisis will grow, and the more Yemen will serve as a staging ground for terrorist activities that threaten the U.S. and our partners. This bipartisan legislation would provide the administration responsible and effective leverage that does not exist today to pressure Riyadh to end the tragic civil war in Yemen, eliminate impediments to the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and reduce the risk to civilians. I thank Senator Shaheen, Senator Collins, and Senator Coons for helping to introduce this legislation, and I look forward to working with them and other colleagues to advance this important bill.”

Senator Shaheen said, “The Senate has yet to take decisive action to influence the Saudi-led military operations and protect innocent civilians in Yemen. It’s long past time to send a strong message to Saudi leadership that we have high expectations for our allies, particularly those who are benefiting from U.S. military support. There remains a bipartisan sense of urgency to pass legislation to help end the civil war in Yemen and I’m optimistic we can still make progress, which is why I’m proud to join Senator Young in this effort. I strongly encourage Republican leadership to allow this proposal to be voted on.”

Senator Collins said, “After three years of war in Yemen, it is imperative that we take action to put a stop to this humanitarian disaster.  By ensuring the Department of State regularly certifies that Saudi Arabia is making diplomatic progress and efforts to reduce the suffering of Yemeni civilians, our legislation will help protect innocent people and hasten the end of this conflict.”

Senator Coons said, “I am pleased to work with Senators Young, Shaheen, and Collins to introduce a bill to address the crisis in Yemen.  The United States government should use its influence to pursue three essential objectives: end the fighting, alleviate the suffering, and minimize the risk to innocent civilians.  I respect the Saudis right to self-defense, and in my conversations with Saudi officials I have emphasized these three goals.  This legislation would encourage Riyadh to honor its stated commitments to avoid targeting civilians, to pursue diplomatic solutions to end the war, and to allow the Yemeni people accelerated access to food, water, and medical supplies.  I thank Senators Young and Shaheen for their leadership on this issue and urge quick consideration and passage of this legislation.” 

Since introducing a prior version of the legislation in March, Senators Young and Shaheen have worked with their colleagues to strengthen the legislation further and build bipartisan support. The legislation introduced this week represents theresult of that effort. 

In response to questions for the record from a subcommittee hearing Senator Young chaired on March 14, 2018, Matthew Nims, Acting Director of the Office of Food for Peace at the U.S. Agency for International Development wrote, “The humanitarian situation in Yemen remains dire.  More than 75 percent of the population—22 million people—require humanitarian assistance and nearly 18 million people are severely food insecure.”  He continued, “Despite ongoing interventions, the number of people requiring humanitarian assistance increased by nearly 3.5 million in the past year as a result of escalating violence, port restrictions, and the resultant deterioration of food security conditions and basic service provision… Only an end to the conflict will end the humanitarian crisis.  We stand with the humanitarian community in calling on all parties to the conflict to safeguard civilians and aid workers, minimize casualties, and bring an end to this devastating conflict.”

Senators Young, Shaheen, and Coons are members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Collins is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Click here for the S.J.Res.58 bill text.