The Yemen Safe Passage Group (YSPG) was formed in mid-2015 as a grouping of senior professionals, humanitarian experts, academics, former diplomats and development practitioners, who have all worked in Yemen for substantial periods. They have come together, acting in their personal capacities, out of a common concern for the well-being of the Yemeni people.
YSPG represents the case for the unimpeded flow of food, fuel and medicines into Yemen, by drawing the attention of governments and policy-makers to serious abuses in Yemen. YSPG has highlighted the naval blockade and delays imposed on vessels delivering essential supplies, as well as the systematic attacks on Yemeni livelihoods and infrastructure. More recently YSPG has been centrally involved in seeking to neutralise the threat posed by FSO SAFER, the oil storage vessel moored in the Red Sea, which from lack of maintenance during the war, now threatens the coast with a major oil spill affecting millions of livelihoods and the import of food.
YSPG looks for solutions that would significantly improve the lot of Yemenis and make the case for an early cessation of hostilities and for a sustainable and inclusive peace. The group has now grown to some sixty individuals comprising three sections: former British diplomats and defence personnel, including former ambassadors; prominent British academics working on Yemen; and senior development and community workers.
YSPG’s strength lies in bringing together a wide range of expertise – international politics and diplomacy, peace-making and reconciliation skills, security, trade and the economy, port operations, infrastructure, livelihoods and humanitarian operations. This is coupled with an understanding as to how this wide expertise might realistically be applied to the Yemen situation and its unique political culture and history.
The group has a wide range of contacts, both in and outside Yemen, and on every side of this conflict. This helps keep its recommendations rooted in an often-complex reality. YSPG moves as far as possible by broad consensus, seeking feedback from the group on major statements, which in turn become the positions on which to influence or take initiatives. It has a small coordinating team representing the cross-section of backgrounds and skills within the group.
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