Tuesday, 18 June 2019
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
50. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the continued violence and humanitarian crisis in Yemen; the steps Ireland is taking at EU level to address the unethical sales of EU arms which has furthered the conflict; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25170/19]
Four years of conflict in Yemen has caused the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with almost 80% of the population in need of humanitarian assistance.
Ireland and the EU fully support the efforts of UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to bring about a negotiated solution. The Stockholm Agreement of December 2018 remains our best hope for a political settlement. There was some positive progress last month with the unilateral withdrawal of Houthis forces from the port of Hodeidah, but overall implementation of the Agreement has been slow.
UNSE Griffiths has thanked the EU for its support on getting the parties to the table and sustaining the political pressure, saying it would not have been possible to reach agreement in Stockholm without the EU.
Despite these few positive steps, recent months have seen continued violence. I take this opportunity to condemn the reckless Coalition air attacks which have claimed the lives of civilians, including children, in recent months. I also condemn Houthi missile attack on Abha airport in south-west Saudi Arabia on 12 June, which injured scores of people. I call on all parties to comply fully with their obligations under international humanitarian law, including in relation to the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.
Since 2012, Ireland has provided over €22 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen, including a contribution of €5 million this year.
Some, though not all, of the EU Member States which have arms industries have decided to halt arms exports to countries involved in the Yemen conflict. A full EU arms embargo would require an EU consensus, which does not currently exist. However, all EU Member States have signed and ratified the 2014 Arms Trade Treaty. The Treaty exists to ensure that arms sales do not fuel conflicts, lead to serious violations of international human rights law, or allow arms to fall into the hands of non-state actors or terrorists. Ireland’s efforts are concentrated on ensuring the effective implementation of the Treaty.
Ireland will continue to do what we can to assist the humanitarian effort in Yemen, while supporting the efforts of the UN in working towards a political solution, as well as advocating for this in our bilateral contacts.