Van Hollen, Markey, Merkley, and Sanders Call on Biden Administration to Reinstate Humanitarian Assistance to Yemen
Yemen remains the world’s largest single-country humanitarian emergency
Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Acting Administrator Gloria Steele calling for robust diplomacy and a reversal of the Trump administration’s decision to suspend U.S. humanitarian aid in northern Yemen.
On March 27 2020, USAID suspended more than $50 million dollars of humanitarian assistance to northern Yemen in response to Houthi rebels’ efforts to impede speedy assistance. However, USAID’s partners have stated that they now have the ability to impartially reach civilians throughout the country, as twenty-one million Yemenis struggle to survive with COVID-19 and the country stands at risk of famine.
“The spread of COVID-19 in 2020 exacerbated the Yemeni civilians’ already perilous existence; they have faced repeated displacement, rising food insecurity, environmental disaster, limited access to assistance, loss of livelihoods, and extreme currency inflation. The disproportional impacts of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable demand a flexible response from the United States, the United Nations, and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), especially as the people of Yemen grow increasingly desperate,” write the Senators in their letter. “Our humanitarian assistance worldwide — provided solely on the basis of need, not politics — showcases American values during the COVID-19 pandemic and this period of unprecedented need.”
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
In the letter, the Senators outline key steps for Secretary Blinken and Acting Administrator Steele to take related to Yemen, including:
- Reverse the current blanket International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGO) humanitarian suspension in northern Yemen to ensure that U.S. assistance — specifically, more than $50 million in Congressionally appropriated funds programmed to support medical treatment, vaccinations, water trucking, sanitation, shelter, and food assistance — remains impartial and reaches those in need;
- Avoid any attempts to implement inflexible and uncoordinated future blanket restrictions on INGO-funded grants in Yemen;
- Approach current and future operational constraints in the same manner countrywide, and implement assistance free of political considerations or pressure; and
- Work collaboratively in partnership with the INGO community to show flexibility in restarting assistance where partners on the ground deem it possible to reach beneficiaries.
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