October 16, 2015
Press Release


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Keith Ellison (MN-05), Ted Lieu (CA-33), and 10 additional Members of Congress have sent a letter to President Obama urging greater efforts to avoid civilian casualties in Yemen and achieve a diplomatic solution to the conflict. Last week, airstrikes conducted by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition struck a wedding reception in Sanban village, killing at least 23 Yemini civilians. The attack comes just over a week after an even deadlier attack on a wedding party in Wahijah village, which killed at least 131 people.

“Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has acknowledged the United States is providing the Saudi-led coalition with intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and logistics information, as well as resupply of equipment and munitions,” the Representatives wrote. “In order to protect innocent lives and reduce the potential for backlash against U.S. interests, we urge your administration to work with our Saudi partners to limit civilian casualties to the fullest extent possible.”

According to Amnesty International, more than 2,100 civilians, including at least 400 children, have been killed since the conflict began, with the vast majority of civilian deaths and injuries attributed to attacks by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition.

The Representatives continued, “When U.S. weapons and intelligence are utilized, the decision to conduct an airstrike should correspond to the standards that would apply to any U.S. military operation for limiting civilian casualties and collateral damage. Additional precautions to protect civilians are particularly crucial as the State Department has reported thousands of U.S. citizens are still inside Yemen in the absence of an official evacuation.”

The lawmakers also echoed the concerns of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who has made it clear that there is no military solution to the conflict in Yemen. Only a diplomatic solution will bring a peaceful end to this conflict and reverse the extensive humanitarian crisis.

“With reports of the Houthi rebel leaders now open to possible UN negotiations, we urge you to continue all diplomatic efforts,” they wrote. “The people of Yemen and their relatives in the United States are counting on us to fully explore all avenues that could lead to peace in Yemen.”

Additional signers include: Barbara Lee, Mark Pocan, Jan Schakowsky, Maxine Waters, David Cicilline, James McGovern, Raul Grijalva, John Conyers, Bobby Rush, John Lewis.

A full copy of the letter can be found here.