This website is an archive of the work of Marietje Schaake in the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019. Marietje can be reached at

Plenary speech on the humanitarian situation in Yemen

On January 20, Marietje Schaake spoke in the plenary about the humanitarian situation in Yemen. Marietje Schaake, on behalf of the ALDE Group. Madam President, the people in Yemen are slowly dying of hunger and disease and they are wiped out by bombings by the coalition that is ‘Saudi-led’, but it is followed by the US and the UK. Prime Minister Cameron this week said: ‘We are trying to do everything we can to make sure that the work done by Saudi Arabia is properly targeted’. Well, obviously this is not working. It is a disgrace that your proposals – and by this I mean those of the Dutch Government, to have an inquiry into the war crimes perpetrated in Yemen through the UN – were actively boycotted by Saudi Arabia, and also that France and the UK did not support the Netherlands. The EU, if it wants to be strong, needs a common position. In the Committee on Foreign Affairs you spoke of exporting stability which I believe is a noble goal, but it should start by the EU seeking to end the export of weapons to Saudi Arabia. I would like to ask you whether you are willing to work towards an embargo in the Council, at least of bombs, fighter jets and combat helicopters, and whether you are willing to pressure anyone who may be using cluster bombs, which are disproportionate and are allegedly used in Yemen. I want to ask whether you agree that the violence in Yemen underlines the need for the EU to review its relationship with Saudi Arabia and actually make it more even-handed with the relationship we have with the Islamic Republic of Iran. After the nuclear deal, there is room to engage that country also with regard to ending the violence in Yemen. Iran, like Saudi Arabia, must be pushed to be a part of the solution and end the violence in the Middle East. Lastly, the blockades of sea, land and air have hampered humanitarian aid delivery which is so desperately needed and this hampering kills people, according to Doctors Without Borders, who also claim that people have stopped coming to hospitals because they believe these have been targeted in a worrying pattern. (The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question from Charles Tannock MEP) Charles Tannock (ECR) blue-card question You specifically mentioned the United Kingdom, as I gather, trying to veto or prevent an investigation proposed by Holland into war crimes in the Yemen. Do you have any direct evidence to suggest that Saudi Arabia has deliberately targeted hospitals or schools? There are reports, but if your government has got such evidence, why does it not go public about it? Because clearly that is a very serious accusation, and I would be ashamed to think that the United Kingdom would try and protect such a thing. (Response by Marietje Schaake) Marietje Schaake (ALDE) blue-card answer Thank you, Mr Tannock, for your question. I think there are two issues in my remarks which may have been confused. One is the proposal by the Dutch Government – I am sure Minister Koenders can elaborate if that is necessary – that was supposed to be executed by the UN and which was successfully blocked – I would say unfortunately, because I think an independent inquiry into the crimes perpetrated is key. What I was citing in terms of a pattern of targeted attacks on hospitals is a claim that is made by the respected international NGO ‘Doctors Without Borders’. I was not attributing that observation to the Dutch Government but citing what ‘Doctors Without Borders’ has said it observes.
See also: 08-07-2015 Plenary speech on the situation in Yemen