Statement by the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen, at the High-level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen
Two years of war in Yemen have killed over seven-and-a-half thousand Yemenis and injured more than 42,000. And those are just the official numbers – the casualties caused directly by violence. The actual numbers are much higher. They include the indirect victims of this crisis. In two years, the warring parties in Yemen have created the biggest food emergency in the world.
The Yemeni people are not starving: they are being starved. They are under siege by air, land and sea. Humanitarian aid cannot get through. Children are dying from curable diseases and malnutrition. Unless we immediately address the commercial blockades and the man-made barriers to aid, the millions we pledge today will not help millions of Yemenis tomorrow. We cannot allow economic warfare. We cannot allow hospitals to be bombed and aid workers to be targeted.
The Netherlands urges all parties to ensure immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access, and to respect international humanitarian law. Be it in Saada or Taiz, aid must reach people in need. Without commercial access, food insecurity will only continue. So I call upon the warring parties to do three things:
First, protect Hodeidah Port. More than two-thirds of the goods Yemenis need pass through Hodeidah. There is no alternative way to reach millions of Yemenis.
Second, fully cooperate with the United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism, so that ships carrying commercial goods can arrive without delay.
Third, reopen Sana’a airport for commercial flights. This would allow people to seek life-saving medical treatment abroad, enable family reunification, and bring in much-needed supplies. Reopening the airport could also be a step towards restoring confidence in the peace process.
In complex crises like Yemen’s, humanitarian organisations need the freedom to respond quickly to changing circumstances. This requires flexible funding from donors. The Netherlands contributes over 70% of its total humanitarian budget un-earmarked to the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), UN organisations and the ICRC. That money can be used by our partners immediately and as they see fit.
We cannot make our partners wait, and we must not make the people of Yemen wait. I urge my colleagues to honour their commitments as soon as possible. The Dutch government did not wait for this pledging conference to announce and disburse its contributions. For 2017 the Netherlands is pledging 15.4 million euros for life-saving assistance in Yemen.