In response to the upcoming House vote H.Con.Res.81 to end U.S. participation in the war in Yemen, Scott Paul, Oxfam America humanitarian policy lead, shared the following statement.
“Oxfam urges Members of Congress to support H.Con.Res.81 to end U.S. participation in the war in Yemen.
“Yemen is now the world’s largest food emergency and the site of the largest cholera outbreak in recorded history. Oxfam has worked in Yemen to help people escape poverty and to advocate on behalf of women and youth for more than 30 years. In 2015, following the U.S.-supported Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s entry into the armed conflict, an already bad humanitarian situation took a turn for the worse. As a result, Oxfam scaled up its humanitarian response. We are now reaching more than 1.2 million people with life-saving assistance.
“The principal cause of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is the ongoing conflict that has led to the collapse of state institutions, essential services, the national economy, and critical infrastructure. We have offered a number of policy recommendations to the parties to the conflict as well as international actors such as the U.S. government to ease suffering, most of which have not been heeded. We will continue to push for these important incremental steps. However, the crisis will not come to an end – and humanitarian responders will continue to be overwhelmed by the scale of need – until the parties agree to a political settlement accompanied by a full ceasefire, and ultimately peace in Yemen. Presently, both sides believe that they can improve their political positions by fighting a drawn-out military campaign.
“The Saudi Arabia-led coalition has argued that its adversaries are wholly responsible for the political deadlock, but in reality none of the parties to the conflict have taken meaningful steps toward an achievable settlement. While the U.S. has called publicly for a diplomatic resolution, U.S. support for the coalition has undermined international pressure to make peace. Since the beginning of the coalition’s participation in the war, the U.S. has provided targeting and logistical assistance and has authorized the sale of weapons that are currently being used in the war in Yemen, including aerial munitions that Saudi Arabia has used in attacks that have caused tremendous civilian carnage and the extensive destruction of Yemen’s critical economic and health infrastructure. The U.S. has also provided mid-air refueling on an on-demand basis that has enabled the coalition to ramp up attacks against enemy targets in Yemen’s civil war – without any knowledge of the intended targets or flight plans of the missions it is refueling.
“The Constitution vests the president with control over the military as its Commander-in-Chief but grants Congress the power to declare war. As an impartial humanitarian agency concerned primarily with saving lives and easing suffering, Oxfam takes no position on the precise extent of the president’s authority to direct military activities absent specific Congressional approval. However, given the lack of Congressional oversight over the use of force in recent years, and most importantly given the humanitarian implications of U.S. involvement in Yemen’s civil war, we welcome the more assertive Congressional posture represented by H.Con.Res.81 and we are proud to offer our support.”