Thank you Madame la Presidente,
Honourable members of the Assembly,
We had a long and complex session today discussing various issues from Georgia to Armenia, from Russia to Ukraine, as well as Turkey. None of these issues have been irrelevant to our endeavours here in the Council of Europe. Yet, I wonder whether we sometimes get involved into an egocentric effort and fail to pay attention to other geographies around us where there is some serious injustice, violence, unlawfullness and an unmerciful civil war costing tens of thousands of lives, of women, of children. I would like to draw your attention to the human tragedy that the world has relentlessly ignored for the last couple of years, namely the situation in Yemen.
The Yemeni crisis is the new setting of the unfolding paradigm in the Middle East, the confrontation between the Sunni and the Shia, which is becoming the theater of Proxy wars, affecting not only the Yemen but having repercussions for the wider Middle Eastern geography, too. The Middle Eastern geography, honourable members of the Council, is our close neighbourhood and disturbance of order and justice in any country there has implications for the overall European security.
According to an independent monitoring group, approximately 80 thousand people have lost their lives in the Yemeni conflict in the last four years. In contrast, Saudi Arabia, together with its allies, tries to downplay this number and argues that those who have died are only 10 thousand. As members of the Council of Europe, we should consider civil war as a threat to order, harmony, and the basic human right to live, and even one dead person is too many.
Do we know that 22 million people in Yemen, which is around 3 fourths of the country’s whole population are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and protection? The United Nations has officially admitted that in Yemen, in every 10 minutes, a child under the age of 5 dies and that the reason for their death is entirely preventable. Recent data unveiled by World Food Programme shows that 8,4 million Yemenis do not have any guarantee for their next meal after finishing one and this figure is rising day by day. The coalition led by Saudi Arabia applies a blockade but if the flow of humanitarian assistance stops, World Food Programme urges that the number of people to be affected by famine will be around 14 million. 56% of the population has no access to health facilities, and 55% has no access to clean water. The number of people inflicted by cholera increases by 10 thousand every week.
Regrettably, Yemen tragedy came to the attention of the world only after the scandalous and terrifying assasination of Jamal Ghashoggi in Istanbul in the Saudi Arabian consulate. What a contradiction!!!
The solution of the conflict in Yemen should be seeked through a peaceful, inclusive, orderly and Yemeni led political transition process that meets the just and legitimate demands and aspirations of the Yemeni people for peaceful change and meaningful political, economic and social reform. It is evident that Yemen is only one of the issues that we have to pay serious attention on our eastern front. But it is the most agonizing and heart breaking human tragedy of our times. I felt it was necessary to draw the attention of the Honourable members of the Council to this tragedy.