Yemen: A die-in in Paris denounces France’s silent complicity in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis

Press release
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As Yemen – on the brink of famine and with its humanitarian situation more catastrophic than ever – is mired in a seventh year of war, 12 humanitarian and human rights groups are calling on French President Emmanuel Macron to end France’s silent complicity by ceasing its arms sales to states involved in the conflict. Activists mobilised by our organisations will gather on Thursday 25 March 2021, for a die-in at Paris’ Place de la République.

Our 12 organisations are calling on President Macron to finally show some courage and follow the example of many other arms-exporting countries. In January 2021, the President of the United States, the world’s largest arms exporter, announced the suspension of arms sales to the warring parties in Yemen. At the same time, Italy took the historic decision, following persistent demands from civil society, to cancel the delivery of several thousand bombs and missiles to the warring coalition in Yemen.


The French government, on the other hand, continues to transfer armaments to countries involved in the conflict in Yemen, despite six years of repeated reports and warnings from civil society organisations and the United Nations about the war crimes committed in Yemen. The war is causing appalling consequences for the civilian population, who are paying the highest price for the continuing deterioration of the humanitarian and economic situation in the country. The conflict in Yemen has resulted in almost 250,000 casualties due to the fighting and the humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations, while almost 20.7 million Yemenis, or 80% of the population, are in need of humanitarian assistance. On 29 September 2020, a UN Human Rights Council resolution also denounced the use of civilian starvation "as a method of warfare" by all parties to the conflict in Yemen. This resolution, signed by France, strongly condemns violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and calls on States to refrain from transferring weaponry to any party to the conflict where they determine that there is a substantial risk that they could be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international law.


 In order for France to stop being complicit in war crimes committed in Yemen, our organisations call on the government to bring its actions into line with its international commitments, notably the Arms Trade Treaty. We also demand an end to the opacity of the French government on its arms sales and the implementation of an efficient parliamentary control on military exports, taking the example of several of our European neighbours. On 18 November 2020, the parliamentary report of the Mission d’information sur le contrôle des exportations d’armement de la France (information commission on the regulation of French arms exports) noted the need for greater transparency and "a real power of oversight" by Parliament. Emmanuel Macron’s government must respond quickly and positively to this demand for control and transparency, which is all the more urgent and essential because millions of lives in Yemen depend on it.

We also ask President Macron to mobilise French diplomacy to

 • Demand that all parties to the conflict immediately stop bombing and other attacks on civilians, hospitals, schools and the thousand-year-old Yemeni national treasures classified as World Heritage by UNESCO;
 • Press for the lifting the blockade and any obstacle to the delivery of food, medical supplies, and fuel in accordance with international humanitarian law and UN resolutions so as to allow unimpeded access to humanitarian relief for Yemeni civilians.

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