Aid Agencies: UN Security Council Should Seize Opportunity to Restart Yemen Peace Process

In an open letter sent today, Oxfam, Norwegian Refugee Council, Save the Children, Action Contre La Faim and seven other agencies urge the UN Security Council to press parties in the Yemen conflict to implement an immediate ceasefire and kick-start the peace process. They also demand a new international monitoring mechanism to investigate mounting evidence of possible war crimes, and an expansion of the arms embargo to ensure that no military equipment supplied to any party can be used in Yemen.

The letter comes after two key parties in the conflict, Ansar Allah and the General People's Congress, agreed in writing last week to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and the Oman peace plan brokered by the UN Special Envoy to Yemen.

Amid rapidly deteriorating humanitarian conditions, ongoing restrictions on commercial imports, and a disintegration of basic services countrywide, the letter calls on UN Security Council member states to demand that warring parties immediately provide unimpeded and safe passage of aid to affected communities. The de facto blockade on Yemen should be lifted so that lifesaving supplies of fuel, food and medicine can enter all parts of the country.

Since late March, the fighting in Yemen has killed at least 2,500 civilians, including more than 500 children. The number of people now displaced due to fighting is 2.3 million.

Sajjad Mohamed Sajid, Oxfam country director in Yemen, said: "Six months after the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2216, Yemen peace efforts have stalled, while 21 million Yemenis continue to bear the brunt of the brutal conflict. The UN should take advantage of the recent political developments to push for an end to the fighting, restart peace talks and establish an international monitoring body that investigates possible violations by all sides."

The letter stresses the importance of allowing humanitarian aid to enter the country and reach all conflict areas. In September, only 1 percent of Yemen's fuel needs entered the country - the lowest level since April.

Hundreds and thousands of civilians in Taiz, the country's third largest city, are desperately short of water, food and medical supplies as armed groups tighten their control over the city and block much needed humanitarian aid from getting in.

Gabriella Waaijman, Regional Director for the Horn of Africa and Yemen at the Norwegian Refugee Council, said: "The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has reached an extreme level with civilians paying a heavy price. It's urgent that all parties allow aid to reach people in need, and that the Security Council push the parties to meet this basic obligation of international law."

Edward Santiago, Country Director of Save the Children Yemen, said: "Children are bearing the brunt of the crisis in Yemen, not only have they been killed during air strikes and fighting but the homes, schools and hospitals they rely on have been damaged or destroyed. Many families don't have the food, fuel or medicine they desperately need to survive as enough aid simply can't get into the country as a result of the de facto blockade. We've already seen a 150 percent increase in cases of severe acute malnutrition between March and August, so unless more aid gets through immediately, thousands more children could die."

In the past six months, the number of children out of school has more than doubled, and one in four schools have shut down. Most of the others are damaged or hosting people displaced by the fighting.

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