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Mr Christopher de Souza: To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether the Government will offer humanitarian relief to help alleviate the crisis and famine in Yemen.
1 Yemen has been torn by strife in recent years. The underlying roots of the current conflict are deep and complex.
2 Critically, the conflict has become a breeding ground for terrorist and extremist groups. More recently, the Islamic State has established a foothold in Yemen, which heightens the risks of radicalisation.
3 Alongside the threat of radicalisation, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen generated by the ongoing upheaval is also of serious concern for the international community. Between March 2015 and August 2018, the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights documented more than 17,000 civilian casualties, including more than 6,500 deaths.
4 Prolonged fighting will worsen the humanitarian situation and create more security vacuums for terror groups to exploit. Therefore, we strongly encourage the key players involved to work towards a ceasefire and return to the negotiating table to find a political solution. There can be no lasting and durable peace without political negotiations and compromise.
5 In the meantime, I am heartened to note that some of our community organisations have held various fundraising drives for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. For example, the Rahmatan Lil Alamin Foundation, in partnership with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, organised a special fundraising effort at 71 mosques in July 2017 for the affected civilians in Yemen. Islamic Relief Singapore has an ongoing fundraising drive for Islamic Relief’s efforts to distribute food and provide emergency water. In 2016, the Arab Association Singapore partnered with the United Nations Development Programme on the initiative “Yemen Our Home”, in order to support the rebuilding of infrastructure, skills training, and the empowerment of women in Yemen. These ground-up initiatives speak to the generosity of Singaporeans.
6 The dire humanitarian situation will only improve once a durable ceasefire is place, and reconstruction is only possible when the conflict is resolved. Singapore supports the work of UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths in organizing peace talks to reach a political solution, which is the real key to alleviating the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. We continue to urge all parties to exercise utmost restraint and to work together towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Yemen.
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MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
19 NOVEMBER 2018