On 12 November, the European Commission and Sweden hosted the second Humanitarian Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
All participants expressed their concern at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen compounded by restricted access, a collapsing economy and shortages of humanitarian funding with an alarming risk of widespread famine.
Humanitarian actors, donors, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) reaffirmed their commitment to continue acting jointly along the collective and coherent stand adopted back in February at the first Yemen Senior Officials Meeting, upholding humanitarian principles and global accountability standards through a constructive and sustained engagement with the parties to the conflict.
Looking ahead to 2021, donors reaffirmed their full support for the humanitarian organisations who are operating under extreme and difficult conditions on the ground and highlighted the importance of mobilising additional resources urgently.
Participants identified potential areas for support to prevent the collapse of the Yemeni economy as well as concrete modalities allowing for more focused development and financial support to address the drivers of the crisis in order to keep Yemen from collapse.
The following joint statement was issued by Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič and Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation Peter Eriksson:
“We brought together once again the main humanitarian actors engaged in the Yemen crisis. Yemen remains the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and it is worsening. Needs in Yemen are unprecedented and the threat of famine is real. All humanitarian actors remain firmly committed to continue providing vital support to the people of Yemen in line with humanitarian principles.
Since our first meeting in February, there have been improvements in the operating environment for humanitarians. But this progress is insufficient to keep pace with the growing needs. Increased collaboration from the parties to the conflict is urgently needed. We recall the obligation by all parties to comply with International Humanitarian Law. All restrictions, obstructions and interference violating humanitarian principles should be sustainably removed once and for all.
We welcome the renewed commitment expressed today by the humanitarian community to continue operating jointly to face these challenges and adapt and recalibrate programmes where delivery of humanitarian aid in accordance with the humanitarian principles is obstructed by the parties. We support the constructive and sustained engagement with different actors aiming to ensure a principled and effective delivery of humanitarian aid.
We are alarmed by the funding shortages threatening the viability of life-saving programmes implemented by humanitarian actors. We call on all donors, particularly those having reduced significantly their contributions to the humanitarian response in Yemen during 2020, to urgently increase their funding so as to reach the levels of previous years.
We also note with concern that humanitarian aid alone will be insufficient to contain the crisis. Besides improving the humanitarian operating environment and increasing levels of humanitarian funding we must address the political and economic drivers of the crisis that have led to over 80 per cent of Yemenis depending on aid.
While addressing the drivers of the crisis is largely the responsibility of the parties, who need to agree on mechanisms to reduce the burden of the conflict on civilians, we welcome the discussions held today on how best the international community could assist these efforts, how to enhance humanitarian and development coordination and provide technical support.
A long-term solution to the situation in Yemen requires an urgent, nationwide ceasefire, and a comprehensive peace agreement, and we urge all parties to actively engage in and support the UN-led political process aiming at a peaceful solution to the conflict.”