November 16, 2017

Young Renews Call for Immediate End to Saudi Arabia’s Humanitarian Blockade of Yemen

Young: Saudi Humanitarian Blockade Undermining U.S. National Security Interests 

World Food Programme, United Nations Children’s Fund, and World Health Organization: “Lives of Millions Are At Risk

UN Humanitarian Chief: Saudi Blockade Risks “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following a joint statement today by the leaders of the World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organization (WHO) saying millions of lives are at risk in Yemen if the Saudi blockade continues, Senator Todd Young (R-IN) issued the following statement

“Each day that Saudi Arabia continues its humanitarian blockade of Yemen worsens the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and results in countless preventable deaths from lack of food, fuel, and medicine. The worsening humanitarian conditions caused by Saudi Arabia’s actions are also transforming noncombatants in Yemen into intractable enemies of Riyadh and the United States—providing opportunities for Iran that it will use to further undermine U.S. and Saudi security and economic interests, destabilize the region, and advance Tehran’s malign activities. Our Saudi partners certainly have a right to defend themselves, but they can and should do so without depriving millions of innocent people of life-saving humanitarian assistance,” said Young

Young continued, “I renew my call on Riyadh to immediately and fully end all impediments to the delivery of humanitarian aid in Yemen—and that includes opening all Red Sea ports to humanitarian and commercial shipments, ending all restrictions on the travel of journalists and humanitarian personnel, and permitting the delivery of the U.S.-funded cranes to the port of Hodeidah. If the Saudis fail to take these steps without delay, bipartisan outrage toward Riyadh will grow, and I will work with the Trump administration and partners in Congress to take appropriate action.”

Today, in a joint statement, the leaders of the WFP, UNICEF, and the WHO said the following: “Together, we issue another urgent appeal for the coalition to permit entry of lifesaving supplies to Yemen in response to what is now the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The supplies, which include medicines, vaccines and food, are essential to staving off disease and starvation. Without them, untold thousands of innocent victims, among them many children, will die.”

They continued, “Some 17 million people do not know where their next meal is coming from and seven million are totally dependent on food assistance. Severe acute malnutrition is threatening the lives of almost 400,000 children. As supplies run low, food prices rise dramatically, putting thousands more at risk.  Even with a partial lifting of the blockade, the World Food Programme estimates that an additional 3.2 million people will be pushed into hunger. If left untreated, 150,000 malnourished children could die within the coming months. To deprive this many from the basic means of survival is an unconscionable act and a violation of humanitarian principles and law.” 

The WFP also reports today that a vessel with 25,000 metric tons of wheat funded mostly by the United States is waiting off the coast of Yemen’s most important port for humanitarian relief—unable to offload the wheat due to the Saudi-led blockade.

In August, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a presidential statement, calling on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and permit unhindered access for humanitarian assistance to all areas.

On July 18, Senator Young chaired a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing entitled, “‘The Four Famines’:  Root Causes and a Multilateral Action Plan”

In April, Senator Young and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced a bipartisan resolution calling for an urgent and comprehensive diplomatic effort to address political obstacles that are preventing humanitarian aid from being delivered to tens of millions of people who desperately need it. The resolution calls on all parties to the conflicts to allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need. The full Senate passed the resolution in September. 

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “On 9 November, [the World Health Organization] was prevented from delivering 250 metric tons of medical supplies via sea because the supply ship could not leave Djibouti due to the closure of Hudaydah port. The ship was carrying surgical kits, anesthesia machines, infant incubator sets, water purification tablets and other essential supplies.”