WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Friday announced an amendment to the FY 2019 Defense Appropriations bill that would cut off United States’ support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s war in Yemen until the Secretary of Defense certified that the coalition’s air campaign is not violating international law and US policy related to the protection of civilians. The amendment comes in the wake of a horrific school bus bombing, which killed 44 children and 10 adults and highlighted the coalition’s repeated strikes on innocent civilian targets.
“Either the Pentagon should be 100% certain that U.S. weapons and funding aren’t being used to commit war crimes in Yemen, or we should cut off U.S. support right now. 44 innocent kids are now dead, joining the thousands of other civilians who have been murdered by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen,” said Murphy.
“President Trump declared last week that he intended to ignore a new law that placed conditions on U.S. support to the Saudi-led coalition – passing this amendment would show that Congress wasn’t messing around,” Murphy added. “For three years, administrations of both parties have promised that U.S. assistance will improve the targeting, but things on the ground are getting worse, not better. We’re enabling a war that is killing innocent people and not making us one bit safer – that needs to stop.”
According to the United Nations, up to one-third of all Saudi-led coalition airstrikes hit civilian targets. Data shows there has been a 37% increase in civilian casualties from airstrikes in 2018 compared to 2017 (up to 778 from 567).
Murphy has been a vocal critic of U.S. support for military campaigns in Yemen that have led to devastating humanitarian consequences and a security vacuum that has empowered terrorist groups. Murphy has repeatedly expressed concern that U.S. participation in Saudi Arabia’s military actions against Houthi rebels in Yemen threatens our own national security interests. Murphy introduced a bipartisan resolution with U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) to end unauthorized U.S. military involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. Murphy introduced similar legislation last year. In June, Murphy and colleagues sent a letter calling on the Trump administration to take action before an attack on the port of Hudaydah.
Already considered one of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, it is calculated that the Yemen conflict has:
- Killed more than 10,000 civilians and wounded 40,000 more
- Left 22.2 million Yemenis – more than 80% of the entire population – requiring humanitarian assistance;
- Caused the loss of more than 50% of Yemen’s nighttime electricity, a key condition for maintaining hospitals, water supply systems, and communications;
- Left 8 million Yemenis on the brink of starvation;
- Produced the largest cholera outbreak in modern history.