Yemen: the Netherlands is doing nothing

17 September 2015

Yemen: the Netherlands is doing nothing

While the media pay most attention to the crisis in Syria and the resulting refugee problematic in Europe, a western-backed military coalition under the leadership of Saudi-Arabia is provoking a real humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. The Netherlands must speak out against this, argues SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel.


Following the uprising by Houthi rebels from Yemen’s north, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries began a military intervention to help deposed president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back into power.

The result so far is shocking: 4,500 dead, tens of thousands wounded, and 1.5 million refugees.

Even before the intervention, Yemen was in a shocking condition. Half of the population was dependent on humanitarian aid.

Since the escalation of violence the situation has deteriorated in rapid tempo and more than 80% of the population is dependent on aid. Serious undernourishment threatens for millions of people and many hospitals have had to close their doors for want of fuel and medicines.

This misery is the result of serious violence from all parties to the conflict and has to a large extent been exacerbated by the blockade of ports and airports by the coalition countries. Anyone who knows that Yemen is 90% dependent on imported food will understand the extent of the impact of this. Doctors Without Frontiers has confirmed that the blockade has killed as many civilians as has the war itself.

Human Rights Watch concludes that the blockade is illegal because it is depriving the people of Yemen of the things which they need in order to survive.

War crimes have been committed on a grand scale and have included mortar attacks by Houthi fighters on residential areas and air raids by Saudi Arabia and its allies on schools, markets, mosques and other civilian targets.

In addition to supplying arms, which involves tens of billions of dollars, the Americans are also giving direct support. Saudi war planes are refuelled in mid-air, while the Pentagon furnishes intelligence to the coalition countries. This support continues while war crimes have become the order of the day and it’s well-known that both Al Qaida and ISIS are taking advantage of the anarchy in Yemen in a bid to extend their power.

Anyone who expected the catastrophic intervention led by Saudi Arabia to bring stern criticism from Foreign Minister Bert Koenders will be disappointed. The military action and the illegal, murderous blockade have not been condemned.

This attitude is unacceptable.

In practice it comes down political support for the Saudi-led coalition’s cruel actions, for which the people of Yemen are paying far too high a price.  

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