It is difficult to comprehend the severity of the crisis in Yemen. Years of war have destroyed vital infrastructure, including hospitals, and cut off access to humanitarian aid.
March 25 marked eight years since the Saudi-led bombing campaign began. Throughout the war, Saudi Arabia, relying on U.S. military support, has conducted tens of thousands of airstrikes in Yemen. The war has left a visible impact on the country and its people.
Throughout the war, Saudi Arabia, relying on U.S. military support, has conducted tens of thousands of airstrikes in Yemen. The war has left a visible impact on the country and its people.
Thanks to sustained pressure from advocates worldwide, we are beginning to see some long-awaited diplomacy. On April 9, Saudi and Omani delegations traveled to Yemen for historic peace negotiations.
But until a final deal is negotiated, Yemenis face the threat of continued bombings and humanitarian obstruction from Saudi Arabia’s air and naval blockade. Movement and access restrictions by all warring parties are a silent killer, stifling the Yemeni economy and increasing the civilian death toll. Twenty-four million people—80% of Yemenis—need access to emergency humanitarian aid.
To raise awareness on the tragic eighth anniversary of the war, FCNL joined Peace Action, Action Corps, and Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation to co-host an international online rally. More than 300 advocates heard from members of Congress, along with allies from the U.S. and U.K. peace movements. The event displayed the power and persistence of international solidarity.
“As Muslims around the world begin the month of fasting [for Ramadan], let’s not forget that millions of Yemenis do not have the option to break their fast at the end of the day.” Dr. Shireen Al-Adeimi, a Yemeni activist and Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft fellow, reminded advocates at the rally.
Inspired by a poster reading, “War is not healthy for children and other living things,” Rev. Liz Theoharris, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, said, “We must turn away from violence, we must turn away from sanctions, we must turn away from war, and all ways that are bringing the life and livelihood of people…down.”
“We must turn away from violence, we must turn away from sanctions, we must turn away from war, and all ways that are bringing the life and livelihood of people…down.”
Five influential members of Congress highlighted their specific commitments to peace in Yemen and their hopes for the future.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17) emphasized U.S. complicity in the war and the crushing tolls of the blockade. “Far too often, civilians are caught in the crosshairs of conflict and suffer the most,” Sen. Warren stated. “We have to push further and bring an end to all blockades that prevent humanitarian aid.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-05) shared how her family’s connections to Yemen inspired her to work for accountability. Last year she led a letter that called for reestablishing an international oversight mechanism to investigate atrocities committed in Yemen by all parties to the conflict.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI-12) focused on the need for humanitarian aid. In March, she led a letter calling for at least $1.2 billion for humanitarian assistance to Yemen in the FY24 budget. And Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) promised that progressives would work to build a peaceful and prosperous future in Yemen. She reminded advocates that “as long as the United States is providing military support to Saudi Arabia, the American people’s tax dollars are helping to finance this crisis.”
These members of Congress and peace advocates have worked for years to create space for diplomacy. At the rally, they called for further congressional action, including reintroducing a new War Powers Resolution to end U.S. military support for Saudi airstrikes in Yemen. They also uplifted a proposal (S.Res.109), led by Sens. Chris Murphy (CT) and Mike Lee (UT), which invokes Section 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act and would require the State Department to investigate and report on Saudi human rights violations. If passed, the legislation could lead to accountability for how U.S. weapons are used in Yemen.
With all eyes on negotiations in Yemen, grassroots advocates are ready to continue their work toward sustainable peace.
Watch the recording below and learn more about these efforts to advance peace in Yemen.