Skip to main content

Washington, DC – The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation, Demand Progress, and Just Foreign Policy, in partnership with actor and humanitarian Mark Ruffalo and the creators of the 2021 Oscar-nominated film HUNGER WARD, released a letter released today to President Biden, urging him to “demand an immediate and unconditional end” to Saudi Arabia’s military blockade on Yemen, which threatens the lives of millions of civilians by depriving them of food, fuel, and medicine.

Contact Hassan El-Tayyab: hassan@fcnl.org. 202-903-2516

Over a dozen celebrities including Joaquin Phoenix, Alyssa Milano, Orlando Bloom, Amy Schumer, and Sarah Silverman, and more than 70 national organizations representing tens of millions of Americans, warn the president that “400,000 children under the age of 5 could perish from hunger this year without urgent action.”

The complete letter can be viewed here.

“The US-backed Saudi blockade on Yemen is a key driver of the world’s largest humanitarian catastrophe,” said Hassan El-Tayyab, FCNL’s Legislative Manager for Middle East Policy. “Saudi Arabia’s tactic of collective punishment has created untold suffering for tens of millions of people and contributed to hundreds of thousands of deaths. The Biden administration must take urgent action for the sake of millions of Yemenis in desperate need.”

“The UN said 400,000 Yemeni children had weeks or months to live if we don’t act to save them. Many of these children would have died by now because of our inaction. We need to lift the blockade now,” said Aisha Jumaan, President of Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation. “It is unethical to use food, medicine and fuel as bargaining chips. Yemeni civilians should not be held hostages to the lengthy and rocky negotiations between warring parties.”

“Nothing is more precious than the life of a child. And nothing is more horrifying than to see a young life taken for no reason other than politics,” said Skye Fitzgerald, Director of HUNGER WARD, 2021 Oscar Nominated Documentary Short. “As someone who has witnessed firsthand the grievous results of the blockade over Yemen, I urge the Biden administration to extricate itself from the dated and ill-contrived alliance with Saudi Arabia in Yemen.  The starvation-induced deaths of children in Yemen is a daily occurrence and is still supported by our foreign policy. Until we end this support through a unilateral removal of all support of Saudi Arabia’s blockade of the country, we are complicit in daily war crimes in the country. That will never be forgotten.”

“The statistics showing the impact of the blockade in Yemen are shocking and speak to the urgency of lifting the blockade on Yemen,” said Shireen Al-Adeimi, Yemen-born activist and professor at Michigan State University. “Starvation is used as a war tactic, and Yemen’s civilians are paying the price with their lives. President Biden must immediately act to lift the blockade and allow the flow of life-saving fuel, medicine, and food before the blockade claims more victims.  

“There is no more urgent priority in the world today than ending the near-famine conditions resulting from the Saudi blockade of Yemen,” said Erik Sperling, executive director of Just Foreign Policy. “It’s unacceptable that no official in the Obama, Trump, or Biden administration has publicly demanded that Saudi dictator Mohammed bin Salman stop using starvation as a weapon of war. Since President Biden took office, Saudi Arabia has tightened the blockade, escalated airstrikes, and launched multiple ground offensives, further exacerbating this horrific crisis after six. years of war. The Biden administration must put its foot down and do everything in its power to end Saudi crimes against Yemen’s people immediately.”

“As Yemeni children starve and hospitals struggle to keep their lights on, it is incumbent on President Biden to immediately use the U.S.’s tremendous leverage with the Saudi regime in order to end its inhumane siege of Yemen,” said Cavan Kharrazian, Foreign Policy Campaigner for Demand Progress. “It is morally repugnant to allow this policy of mass starvation and human suffering to continue.”

To learn more, please visit www.fcnl.org.

###

Hassan El-Tayyab

Hassan El-Tayyab

Legislative Director for Middle East Policy
Hassan El-Tayyab is FCNL’s lead lobbyist on Middle East policy. He is also responsible for representing FCNL with the various coalitions that work on these issues.