New York, NY, February 4, 2021 — David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said, “President Biden promised that he would reverse failed policies in Yemen and today he has delivered. After years of diplomatic inertia at best and diplomatic vandalism at worst, his announcement of a new US approach to the war in Yemen is a vital first step in reversing the tide of human misery that has engulfed the country. The shift from a failed war strategy toward a comprehensive diplomatic approach cannot come a moment too soon.
“The end of US support for offensive operations, alongside the pause in arms sales, and the appointment of a new Envoy, are necessary and welcome. Yemen has topped the IRC’s “Emergency Watchlist” for three years in a row - as a result of misguided policy, covid and the climate crisis. Today’s moves need urgently to be complemented by further action to relieve suffering and change the incentives from impunity at the expense of civilians to peace-building in their interest.
“For most of the last year, the U.S. has partially suspended funding for lifesaving assistance in areas controlled by Ansar Allah but inhabited by 80% of Yemen’s population. The Biden Administration can make a dramatic impact on the humanitarian nightmare in Yemen by reversing this aid suspension immediately.
“Further, the decision by the last Administration to designate Ansar Allah for terrorism sanctions will enfeeble the commercial economy and torpedo the humanitarian response that 24 million Yemenis rely on to survive. The US should rapidly conclude its policy review and reverse the decision to designate immediately.
“IRC staff have witnessed Yemen’s suffering at first hand. They are desperate to have the international community on the side of their clients, rather than being the cause of their misery. Today’s announcement brings that day closer, and we look forward to seeing further bold leadership of the kind we have seen today.”