New York, NY, May 24, 2019 — The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is alarmed at the consequences for the war in Yemen of a potential new round of US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — reported today and contrary to recent Congressional resolutions. The rationale, timing, content and messaging of this decision threaten to add fuel to the fire of the war and consequent humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The country is already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, driven by relentless and often lawless conflict that has pushed millions of Yemenis to the brink of famine. The international community, especially the United States, must use its full weight to encourage all parties to fulfill the commitments made to de-escalation of the conflict in order to end the suffering of the Yemeni people.
David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, stated, “The priority in Yemen today is more diplomacy not more weapons, more support for the UN sponsored, fragile peace process, not fuel for an arms race. The US has unique capacity to be a force for de-escalation of the conflict, and a halt to a failed war strategy. More weapons are the last thing that Yemen needs. Through actions and words now is the time for all parties to the conflict to be incentivized to change course not double down on a failed strategy. A new round of arms sales fails this test.
All parties to the conflict have failed the Yemeni people. Civilian casualties continue to increase across the country. The Yemen Data Project recorded 131 civilian casualties last month alone, up from 100 in March. All while an uptick in fighting in Al Dhale’e, Yemen has forced the IRC to suspend critical programming, including education for out of school children, and relocate mobile health teams. At a time when cholera cases are resurging across the country, it is of utmost importance that IRC retains access and ability to continue operations of our life-saving cholera treatment centers as the fighting is impacting our ability to deliver medical supplies.
US arms supplies have been central to the 19,000 Saudi and Emirati-led Coalition airstrikes since this brutal conflict began. That amounts to more than 100 strikes a day, every day, for four years. Last year, one third of these strikes hit non-military targets — killing civilians and damaging and destroying infrastructure that Yemenis rely on to survive. More weapons will translate into more suffering. The Administration should be using its regional and global relationships to ensure a long term stop to this barrage.
Humanitarian agencies like the IRC are working in increasingly difficult and dangerous conditions to try to meet the growing needs of a desperate population, and will be facing an uphill struggle until the war ends. We urge Congress to act with the full scope of its authority to stop these sales”.
The IRC has been working in Yemen since 2012 and rapidly scaled our programming in 2015 to address greater humanitarian need caused by the conflict. While the ongoing conflict and restrictions of air and seaports create challenges to our operations, the IRC has maintained access to affected populations in and continues to provide life-saving healthcare, economic empowerment, women’s protection and empowerment, and education programming.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 26 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.