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Yemen update autumn 2018

Published Friday, November 2, 2018

As humanitarians warn that Yemen could be heading for the biggest famine for a century, the Trump Administration has called for a ceasefire and substantive negotiations within 30 days. Could this be the beginning of the end?

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In October 2018 humanitarian agencies warned that Yemen could by early 2019 tip into the biggest famine in a century with fully half the population, some 13 million people, at risk.

The conflict on the ground has increased in intensity recently, largely because of the campaign for the crucial port of al-Hodeidah, which is presently responsible for about half of casualties. Houthi rebel forces have lost some territory in the north and pro-government forces are making some progress in Hodeidah. Nevertheless the conflict is often still described as a stalemate. There is a different and unpredictable battle going on in the south, involving separatists and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as well as the Saudi-led Coalition and other pro- and anti-Government forces.

The UN reported in September that individuals on all sides of the conflict had committed acts that might constitute violations of international law.

The UN’s Special Envoy tried to get talks going in Geneva in September but the Houthi representatives did not attend, saying that the pro-government side had prevented them from flying from Sanaa airport.

On 30 October US Defense Secretary Mattis called for a ceasefire and negotiations within 30 days. The US State Department released a statement shortly afterwards. The UK supported the call for de-escalation.

There is considerable opposition to the UK’s policy of selling arms to members of the Saudi-led coalition in the context of Yemen. The Government argues that it would not license exports if there was a danger of serious violation of international law. The UK supports a political solution. UK humanitarian aid to Yemen amounts to £570 million since 2015, including £96 million to tackle malnutrition announced in October 2018.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8433

Author: Ben Smith

Topic: Middle East

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