A call for international solidarity to end the famine in Yemen

As the devastating and continuing civil war in Yemen reaches its fourth anniversary this month, wreaking a huge humanitarian crisis of famine, disease and widespread destruction that has forced the displacement of several million people, a group of more than 100 organisations launch this appeal to the international community to immediately halt arms sales to the belligerents, and for the latter to end their military engagement and to strive for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

The people of Yemen are suffering from man-made starvation. According to UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, 14 million people are now at risk of famine. Of a population of 29 million, more than 22 million are in need of humanitarian assistance, and nearly half of children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition.

Red Sea ports, notably that of Hudaydah, have been subject to recurring blockades, searches, and restrictions by Saudi-led coalition forces. Hudaydah is by far the most important port in Yemen which prior to the war received 70-80% of imported food supplies.

Delays, fear of attacks, and general uncertainty have deterred many commercial vessels from docking in Hudaydah. The World Food Program (WFP) estimates that in November 2018 food shipments decreased by 50% as many commercial ships did not dock there due to fighting. At the port, vessels confront a lack of basic services: coalition airstrikes destroyed cranes used to lift containers off ships, and the severe fuel shortage results in delays to transport shipments within Yemen. WFP, for example, currently holds 58,434 tonnes of cereals in silos in Hudaydah but is unable to access 51,000 tonnes of those stocks.

Delivery of humanitarian assistance has also been obstructed within the country by the de facto powers in Sanaa (the Ansarallah and allied forces) through excessive bureaucratic procedures, attempts to control the delivery of aid, interference as to who receives it, and toleration of bribery.

Coalition airstrikes have systematically targeted agricultural land, poultry farms, extension services, food processing plants, rural markets, fishing boats, and small ports. By the end of 2017 nearly every fish-offloading port on the Red Sea coast had been struck, 220 fishing boats destroyed, and 146 fishermen killed. Agricultural land and infrastructure have been heavily targeted. This has been devastating to Yemen, a country where before the war, 73% of the population relied on fishing and agriculture for their livelihoods.

Bearing in mind International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and Article 54 of Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions that states:

  1. Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited, and,
    2. It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive,

and Article 70 of Protocol I Additional:

The Parties to the conflict and each High Contracting Party shall allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of all relief consignments, equipment and personnel provided in accordance with this Section, even if such assistance is destined for the civilian population of the adverse Party,

We demand:

  1. An end to all delays and obstructions impeding delivery of humanitarian aid (both in-cash and in-kind), and a firm guarantee that ports will remain operational and free from attack;
    2. An immediate end to military operations, especially targeting of essential food and agriculture infrastructure, including fishing vessels and markets;
    3. Resumption of payment of salaries to government employees suspended for the last two years and support for the Yemeni Riyal through a professionally managed central bank;
    4. Mobilization of funds for humanitarian assistance and recovery programmes to help Yemenis to rebuild their millennial systems of food production;
    5. Support for efforts to build national dialogue and to formulate a peace agreement that respects Yemeni sovereignty.

We welcome the peace negotiations convened by UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths. These can only bear fruit if the causes of today’s imminent famine conditions are brought to an end.

To that end, we call upon members of the international community, particularly the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Australia, Spain, Brazil, and Finland, to halt forthwith all arms sales to parties in this conflict.

We urge countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, and Sudan to terminate their military engagement and to contribute to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

In spite of the repeated calls by civil society organisations over the years of the war, the suffering in Yemen has grown. We hereby renew the call to the international community to halt the starvation of the Yemeni people.


To sign the petition online, please click here


The signatory organisations of this appeal:

Arab Network for Food Sovereignty (ANFS) - Arab Region

Al Hekma Organization

Arab Group for the Protection of Nature - Jordan

Jordanian Women’s Union - Jordan

La Fédération Nationale Du Secteur Agricole (FNSA) - Morocco

Iraqi Society for Nutrition and Food Safety - Iraq

National Confederation of Traditional Fishing in Morocco (CNPAM) - Morocco

National Observatory of Participatory Citizenship -Tunis

Iraqi Association for the Defense of Consumer Rights - Iraq

Energy Conservation Society - Jordan

Coalition of Lebanese Civil Society Organizations - Lebanon

Al Nahda Rural Society - Palestine

National Palestinian Heritage Association - Lebanon

Reseau Maghrebin D'associations De Développement Local En Milieu Rural - Tunisia

Association Pour Le Développement Durable Médenine - Tunisia

Bethlehem Farmers Association - Palestine

Stop the Wall- Palestine

People's Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) - International

La Via Campesina - Global

Palestinian Agricultural Farmers’ Union - Palestine

Salam for Yemen - France

Al-Amal Association - Iraq

Al-Mashreq Institute for Geopolitics Studies - Jordan

Al-Mustaqbal Association - Yemen

Al-Sadakah Roma Capitale - Italy

Arab Commission for Human Rights - France

Arab Renaissance for Democracy & Development - Mena

Arab Women Organization of Jordan - Jordan

Arcade - Senegal / Africa

Association Marocaine des Droits Humains - Morocco

Association Youth for the “Right to Live” - Moldova

Badr Adduja - Jordan

Balkan Civil Society Development Network - Macedonia


Centre for Human Rights and Development - Mongolia

Centre for Research and Advocacy - Manipur

Centro Internazione Crocevia - Italy

Civil Society forum of Tonga - Tonga

Coalition for Grassroot People - Tanzania

Coalition of Civil Society - Lebanon

Cordillera Peoples Alliance - Philippines


Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF) - Eastern and Southern Africa

Fian - Colombia

Fian - International

Food4humanity - Yemen

Food Sovereignty in Action - Europe

Forum of Tomorrow for Culture and Creativity - Yemen

Gasp Vimodrone - Italy

Human Environmental Association for Development - Lebanon

Human Life Foundation - Yemen

Human Unity Movement (HUM) - Pakistan

Improve Your Society Organization - Yemen

Indigenous Community - Cambodia

Institute for National and Democracy Studies (INDIES) - Indonesia

Instituto Humanitas Unisinos (IHU) - Brazil

International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation - Philippines

International Jurists Forum - Italy, Norway and Arab World

Iraqi Firdaws Society - Iraq

Iraqi Organization for Rehabilitating Society and Environment (IRAQIOFRSE) - Iraq

Jerusalem Forum - Jordan

Jordanian Women Association (JWA) - Jordan

Journalists Association and Creators - Yemen

Kuwaiti Social Work Association - Kuwait

La Casa Del Pan - Mexico

Labor's Union for Change and Construction - Yemen

Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre - Nigeria

Lebanese Communist Party - Lebanon

Maan Nartaqi - Yemen

Mobadron Foundation for Social Development - Yemen

Moroccan Forum of Environmental Initiatives - Morocco

Moubarak Establishment for Agriculture – Lebanon

Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People – Niger – Ogoniland

Mtü Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies - Middle East

Musaala Organization for Human Rights - Yemen

Nataj Organization - Libya

National Organization for Humanitarian Action (NOHA) - Yemen

New Horizon Conference - Iran

Observatoire De La Souveraineté Alimentaire Et De L'environnement (OSAE) - Tunisia

Organización De Mujeres Campesinas E Indígenas Conamuri - Paraguay

Palestinian Forum for Immigration, Asylum and Return - Palestine

Palestinian Working Woman Society for Development (PWWSD) - Palestine

Pembaru - Indonesia

Progress for Development - Yemen

Relief and Development Peer Foundation (RDP) - Yemen

Roots for Equity - Pakistan

Sada Foundation (SFBD) - Yemen

Sanid Organization for Releif & Development - Yemen

Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights - Yemen

Society for International Development (SID) - International

Soqotra Organization for Biodiversity and Sustainability (SOBS) - France

SOS Faim - Luxemburg

Sri Lanka Nature Group - Sri Lanka

Studies & Economic Media Center - Yemen

Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (SWAGEN) - Uganda

Syrian Women Organization - Syria

Tanzania Organization for Agricultural Development (TOFAD) - Tanzania

The Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc. - Florida

Together to Protect Human & Environment Association - Iraq

Transnational Institute - Global

Tunisian League for Human Rights - Tunisia

UAF - Morocco

Union of Agricultural Work Committees - Palestine

Unionists Against War - Canada

Unissons-Nous Pour La Promotion des Batwa (UNIPROBA) - Burundi / Africa

Welfare Togo - Togo

Wogood for Human Security - Yemen

Women Cultural and Social Society - Kuwait

Women for Palestine - Lebanon

World Peace Foundation - USA

Yemen International Trade Union Confederation - Africa

Yemen Organization for Women's Policies - Yemen and Netherlands

Yemen Social and Solidarity Economy Centre (YESSEC) - France

YLRD Foundation - Yemen

Youth Spirit Foundation for Human and Community Development (YSFHCD) - Yemen

YWCA - Jordan

Zambia Social Forum (ZAMSOF) - Zambia


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