Civil Society Organisations Call On UN Security Council To Take Action To Save Lives In Yemen


May 26, 2017

For immediate release

Twenty-two international and Yemeni humanitarian and human rights organisations, including Save the Children, the International Rescue Committee and Oxfam, today called on members of the UN Security Council – in particular the United Kingdom – to end its year-long inaction on Yemen, and move decisively to end what is now the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.

"The Security Council can and must do more to protect civilians from the horrors of cholera, hunger and indiscriminate attacks by all parties to the conflict," the organisations said.

Seven million Yemenis are at risk of famine, more than 50,000 have been killed or wounded by the conflict, and now the country is in the grip of a public health emergency with 40,000 suspected cholera cases. The catastrophe is man-made, the organisations said, exacerbated by arms sales to the parties to the conflict who are using them against civilians.

The UN Security Council (UNSC) has not taken meaningful action on the conflict in over a year, during which the humanitarian situation has drastically worsened. The United Kingdom is the UNSC ‘pen-holder’ on the situation in Yemen, meaning it is responsible for initiating any UNSC action on Yemen, including drafting a resolution or a statement.

Kjetil Øsnor, Regional Programme Manager for Oxfam, a signatory to the letter, added: "Political inaction in the face of repeated and blatant violations of international law by all parties to the conflict has culminated in conditions for famine and disease to take hold in Yemen. Security Council action now is critical to scale up the cholera response and prevent millions of people from starving to death."

A letter signed by the 22 organisations, available online and copied below, called on Security Council members to work to bring about an immediate ceasefire in Yemen, and to ensure that parties to the conflict take concrete steps including, at a minimum:

  • Ensure the full and effective functioning of Hudaydah port, including by installing four new cranes that are available, ending excessive delays for ships delivering essential commodities, and ruling out the proposed military attack on the port;
  • Re-open Sana’a airport to commercial flights, so increased humanitarian supplies can get in and people seeking medical treatment can leave;
  • Enable the effective functioning of the Central Bank so public sector salaries can be paid; and
  • Comply with international humanitarian and human rights law, including by ensuring the safety of civilians and releasing arbitrarily held detainees.

The organisations also called upon countries, including members of the Security Council, who are fuelling the conflict by supplying arms that are at risk of being used in the conflict, to cease doing so immediately.

Ms. Rahdya al-Mutawakel, Chairperson of the Yemen-based Mwatana Organisation for Human Rights, said: “May 30 is an important opportunity that the Security Council should seize without hesitation to bring an end to the constant and grave human rights violations that all parties to the conflict have inflicted on civilians across Yemen. We appeal to all governments, but especially Security Council members, to come together and ensure the practical steps are taken that will help Yemen avert the twin nightmares of a cholera epidemic and famine. Your action will give the people of Yemen hope."


The full list of signatories is available below. The 22 organisations were brought together by Crisis Action, an international NGO working for the protection of civilians in conflict. Crisis Action plays solely a coordination role and seeks no public profile. It should not be cited in media reports.


Spokespeople are available from organisations signing the letter, including from Yemen (English and Arabic speakers). For details, please contact:

UK: Hayley Davidson, Crisis Action Advocacy and Campaigns Manager, or +44 20 7269 9450

US: Vanessa Jackson, Crisis Action New York Director at or +1 646 233 1650.

PDF icon Yemen Joint NGO Letter.pdf