Press Statement
Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 28, 2009

The United States is increasingly concerned about the humanitarian situation in northern Yemen resulting from the ongoing conflict between the Government of Yemen and Al-Houthi opposition groups in Sa’ada governorate. The United States calls on all parties to return to the ceasefire that was established in 2008; to respect principles of international humanitarian law; and to avoid any action that would endanger the civilian population – including relief workers – in the affected areas. In the absence of a permanent ceasefire, we call on all parties to coordinate humanitarian pauses during the fighting to provide international relief agencies the opportunity to deliver urgently-needed food and medical supplies to tens of thousands of displaced Yemenis as well as civilians to escape the conflict zones.

The United States agrees with the Council of the European Union’s October 27 statement in support of a unified, stable, democratic and prosperous Yemen. The United States also joins the Council in recognizing the importance of a comprehensive approach to address the security, political, and economic challenges that Yemen faces and reiterates the United States’ readiness to support the Government of Yemen in its efforts to address these challenges.

International aid agencies estimate that as many as 55,000 Yemenis are newly displaced as a result of the latest round of fighting, which began in mid-August. An estimated 150,000 Yemenis have been uprooted as a result of this five-year-long conflict between the Government of Yemen and Houthi tribes. Violence and political disruption continue to hamper the distribution of humanitarian assistance in many areas. As winter approaches, it becomes even more critical that displaced people, and others affected by the conflict, receive timely assistance.

The United States has thus far provided over $8.7 million in FY 2009 to assist Yemenis displaced by recent fighting. The U.S. government provides food aid and supports emergency shelter, water, sanitation, hygiene and protection needs for the most vulnerable among the estimated 150,000 displaced persons and 25,000 vulnerable host families in Sa'ada, Hajjah, and Amran governorates, but significant needs remain. We urge other donor nations to support international relief agencies in alleviating the suffering caused by this ongoing humanitarian crisis.

PRN: 2009/1075