Tuesday, 6 October 2020
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
110. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps Ireland and the EU have taken to address the ongoing instability in Yemen; his plans to increase Irish Aid funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28460/20]
Yemen remains the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, driven by conflict, economic collapse and the breakdown of public institutions and services.
Ireland and the EU fully support the efforts of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, to bring about a political resolution to the conflict in Yemen. In particular, I welcome efforts made towards a Joint Declaration between the Government of Yemen and the Houthis which would commit the parties to a nationwide ceasefire, bring forward a number of economic and humanitarian measures, and resume a political process.
We note the recent announcement on prisoner exchange, which is an important confidence building step. However, despite the Special Envoy’s efforts over the last months, agreement has still not been reached, and we encourage all parties to the conflict to redouble efforts towards securing a ceasefire.
Ireland is deeply concerned by the level of humanitarian suffering in Yemen, and has provided over €27 million in humanitarian aid to Yemen since 2015, including €5 million in 2020. As a member of the EU, Ireland also contributes to the EU response to the crisis in Yemen. Since the beginning of the conflict in 2015, the EU has allocated €484 million in humanitarian aid.
We also remain deeply concerned at the ongoing conduct of the conflict. The recent report of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen highlights a consistent record of violations of IHL and human rights law. We condemn the indiscriminate attacks by the Houthis, including against Saudi Arabia. We continue to call on all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under International Humanitarian Law.
Ireland calls again on the parties to the conflict to continue their engagement with the Special Envoy with a view to agreeing a declaration and ceasefire that will be in the best interests of the people of Yemen.
The Government is aware of and very concerned about the detention of 82 executives of the opposition party HDP on 25 September. Among the detained are seven former HDP MPs, including the current Mayor of Kars, and some of whom have serious health issues. These arrests apparently relate to protests which took place in 2014.
The strong suspicion is that these latest arrests are politically motivated and an attempt to marginalise and isolate the opposition. Hundreds of local politicians and elected officeholders and thousands of members of the HDP have been detained on terrorism-related charges since the local elections in March 2019, and investigations have been launched against other mayors.
Ireland is clear that arrests and legal proceedings should not be used for political reasons as they seriously undermine the proper functioning of local democracy. The Turkish Government needs to ensure that its actions are in accordance with the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms. The detention of thousands of members of opposition parties on terrorism-related charges raises serious concerns regarding Turkey’s backsliding in fundamental areas as expressed on numerous occasions, in the European Commission’s annual reports as well as in European Council Conclusions.
On the wider Kurdish issue, it is clear that this can only be addressed through dialogue aiming at establishing a peaceful, comprehensive, and sustainable solution. Ireland has called for the resumption of such a dialogue to allow the political process to resume. We continue to support efforts to maintain contacts between Kurdish community representatives and the Turkish authorities through our funding of the Democratic Progress Institute’s Turkey Programme.
The Government will continue to closely monitor developments in Turkey both in terms of these detentions, and in terms of the wider picture regarding human rights, freedom of expression, the rule of law, and democracy.