Senate bill helps push peace in Yemen

View of the Huth camp, where Oxfam has been working since the end of 2015, providing drinking water to people displaced by the conflict. Photo: Oxfam/Pablo Tosco

The passage of this bill is a clear warning that US patience with the war in Yemen is wearing thin.

On Tuesday, the Senate approved legislation to shift the US government away from unconditional and unlimited support to Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen. This measure has the potential to be vital in helping alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

The bill holds the State Department accountable to monitor and certify that Saudi Arabia is making real efforts to reach a peaceful resolution in Yemen and to limit its role in the humanitarian crisis by letting more vital goods like food, fuel, and medicine into the country, and avoiding civilian targets in its strikes.

“Should this measure be signed into law, the Trump administration’s assessment of Saudi Arabia’s actions must be thorough, transparent, and rigorous,” said Scott Paul, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Policy Lead. “Above all, it must reflect the voice of the Yemeni people, who are urgently calling for peace and accountability from all parties.”

For more than three years, the United States government has called for peace and urgent humanitarian relief. But at the same time the US—under the administrations of President Obama and now President Trump—supported one side of that war, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, with intelligence, diplomatic cover, a steady stream of arms, and mid-air refueling of aircraft carrying out bombing runs against the Houthis and associated forces.

US assistance has come with no strings attached, as US-fueled Saudi airstrikes have obliterated Yemen’s critical economic infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, and other civilian sites, giving rise to the world’s largest recorded cholera outbreak and a hunger emergency that has left nearly 8.5 million people on the verge of famine.

There are currently more than 22 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Yemen. Oxfam has delivered aid to more than 2 million people in the last year by supplying cash transfers for food, distributing hygiene kits, and providing hygiene education focused on cholera prevention. Oxfam is working with local partners to bring lifesaving aid, but the only way forward is to find a peaceful solution. The United States and others should use their influence to bring the parties to the table to reach a solution that restarts the economy, vital health and education services, and allows the people of Yemen to return to their lives in peace.  


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