YSPG Activities


Continued development and promotion of the YSPG thinking for the removal of FSO SAFER, including detailed work on identified constraints. For full details seeYSPG Update 20 Dec 2021. Summary of Key issues and YSPG interventions relating to resolving the economic, humanitarian and environmental threat posed by FSO SAFER in the Red Seaon this website’s Briefings and Updates tab. Work on the SAFER issue became the main focus of YSPG’s efforts during 2021.

Visits to Amman and to Sana’a for discussions with Fahem Group and negotiations with the De-facto Authorities in Sana’a around the removal of the threat posed by SAFER (July 2021).

Discussions with international salvage operation contractors over technical issues relating to removing the SAFER threat and the best way forward.

Representations on continuing restrictions on trade and aid into Yemen and continued promotion of the opening of Sana’a airport for medicine and equipment.

Voicing of concerns for the practical implications of the US Trump Administration’s proposed designation of the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation, including publication of letter in The Times (Jan 2021).

Continuing contact with senior staff at UN-OCHA in New York and with the UN Special Envoy’s Office.

Continuing contact with FCDO, British Ambassador and relevant Embassy staff, and with the Dutch Embassy and relevant staff.


Development and promotion of a potential plan for the removal of FSO Safer, oil storage vessel containing 1.1m barrels of light crude, which is a major environmental hazard off Salif on a sensitive part of the Red Sea, including proposals made to the Houthi leadership in Sana’a

Initiative on securing secure airbridges into Yemen’s airports, including letter to the PM and media publicity. This was supported by the ten most senior British political figures knowledgeable about the Yemen including Lord Mark Malloch-Brown KCMG, PC, former UN Deputy Secretary-General, Rt Hon David Miliband, PC, former Foreign Secretary, President of the International Rescue Committee, Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, former Secretary of State for International Development, Rt Hon Sir Stephen O’Brien KBE, former UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, former Undersecretary of State for International Development, Sir John Sawers GCMG, former British Permanent Representative to the UN, Sir Alan Duncan KCMG, Former Envoy to Yemen and former Minister in FCO and DFID, Rt Hon Sir Desmond Swayne TD MP, former Minister of State for International Development, Rt Hon Alistair Burt, former Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa at FCO and DFID, Rt Hon Timothy Loughton, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Yemen, Rt Hon Alison Thewliss MP, Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Yemen.

Discussions with International Crisis Group around the publication of their report Rethinking Peace in the Yemen

Continuing contact with senior staff at Martin Griffiths UN Special Envoy’s Office

Continuing contact with FCO and the British Ambassador


Visit to Amman, Jordan for discussions on removal of FSO Safer, oil storage vessel containing 1.1m barrels of light crude, which is a major environmental hazard off Salif on a sensitive part of the Red Sea, with UN Special Office and key Yemeni businesses

Visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for discussions including on the removal of FSO Safer and a compromise formula for the handling of any revenues from the sale of the oil

YSPG-coordinated joint letter (Nov 2019) with British Yemeni Society focused on the economic elements of Yemen’s crisis including fuel blockades and the case for an early relocation of UNVIM from Djibouti to Hodeidah

Joint letter with UNA and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Yemen (Oct 2019) to Rt Hon Dr Andrew Murrison, Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, raising concerns about the negative impact of UNSCR 2216 on resolving Yemen’s civil war and the need for direct UK channels of communication with all parties to the conflict

Continuing dialogue with Cabinet Office, FCO and the British Ambassador on safe passage issues and the steps needed to facilitate peace


Presentation ‘Battle for Hodeidah and Control of the Port – the trigger for mass starvation’, at European Council on Foreign Relations meeting ‘Battle for Hodeidah: a defining moment for the future of Yemen’, July 2018

Meetings with Michael Aron, incoming British Ambassador

Meeting and follow up with Sir Matthew Rycroft, former British Ambassador to the United Nations, and now Permanent Secretary at the Department for International Development

Introductory correspondence with Martin Griffiths, newly appointed UN Special Envoy for Yemen

Briefings sent to All Party Parliamentary Group, laying out YSPG concerns

Meetings with and briefing for Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell, MP, former Secretary of State for International Development, and the only British MP to have visited Sana’a since the conflict began.  He organised the House of Commons discussion on Yemen in late 2017.

Continued dialogue with Crisis Action (the NGO network) in UK https://crisisaction.org , who ran a successful campaign gaining support for a strong statement on Yemen, the blockade and arms trade, from over 350 public figures from Yemen and the international community

Dialogue with Yemen Peace Project in US www.yemenpeaceproject.org , who have been active in seeking a resolution in Congress to shift the US position on the Yemen war

Engagement through intermediaries with Mark Lowcock, incoming UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs on safe passage issues and the strengthening of UNVIM


Two letters to Rt Hon Theresa May, British Prime Minister: the first in March arguing need for a new UN Security Council Resolution, for Hodeidah Port to be managed as a safe area, and for support for IFC’s scheme to ensure key salaries and welfare payments are made while creating financial guarantees for food importers; the second in December urging the drafting of a new resolution to replace the dated UNSCR 2216

Briefing sent to MPs at time of UK Parliamentary debate on Yemen, and YSPG positions argued at discussions of All Party Parliamentary Group on Yemen (both in early July). Detailed support and practical options given to the idea of Hodeidah as a Safe Port at time when the military threat against this lifeline for food and aid imports was at its highest.

Meeting with Rt Hon Alistair Burt, Minister of State for the Middle East at DFID and FCO, following more detailed discussions with relevant FCO staff

Introductory contact made with Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of British Labour Party and the official Opposition, who has been active in speaking on the contradictions of British policy towards Saudi Arabia in particular in regard to the Yemen war and humanitarian disaster

Discussions with Deep Root Consulting, Sana’a and Oxford, over factors influencing the price of basic foodstuffs in Yemen, delays involved in the food pipeline, both at ports of entry and on land, and effectiveness of UNVIM

Consultations with range of experts over smuggling routes for arms, and the incentive this creates for prolonging the war.  Discussions with Satellite Catapult in Didcot over potential for better information on illegal and suspicious vessels

Presentation to Yemen Civil Society Event in London, with YSPG chairing the session on economic damage

Presentation to Adalah, Yemen’s first Legal NGO, www.adalahyemen.com aimed at promoting human rights and the rule of law, with offices in Sana’a, London and Washington

Contact maintained with Yemen Peace Project in the US www.yemenpeaceproject.org , who argue similar positions to YSPG on the food blockades and economic destruction

Ongoing briefings and discussions with incoming British Ambassador to Yemen, Simon Shercliff, and presentation of YSPG positions amid mounting concern over HMG’s failure to use its influence successfully in constraining its allies

Discussions with UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, especially over Coalition refusal to allow landing of replacement cranes into Hodeidah port

Discussions with Yemeni importers and major business in Yemen – Hayel Saeed Anam Group, Fahem and Thabet Bros International – over obstacles faced by their operations in Yemen (including bombing of some facilities) and over import of food



Discussions with Chairman and MPs in the Yemen All Party Parliamentary Group, and formal submission on blockade / safe passage issues [see letter containing our proposals]. The proposals we made featured prominently in the APPG recommendations to Parliament [see APPG’s Conflict in Yemen: The Forgotten Crisis, 22nd October 2015], especially our recommendations on a UN Verification and Inspection operation, which subsequently became UNVIM, as a way to open up the Coalition naval blockade of imports.

Meeting with Prince Turki Bin Faisal (Saudi ‘elder statesman’ and former Ambassador to both UK and US) and other members of that part of the Saudi Royal Family – at the time of the launch of the Arabic translation of ‘Rebuilding Yemen’ in Riyadh. Concerns communicated over Coalition blockade of ports

Meetings with senior staff of King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies (KFCRIS) in Riyadh, who have researchers working on issues relating to development and the reconstruction of Yemen

Communications with senior contacts in the US, including an injection of ideas via David Milliband, who, through his organisation IRC, was coordinating the NGO response at the time of the UN General Assembly and meetings ‘in the margins’.

In US, contact also made with Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Director, US National Security Council (NSC)

Meeting with Sir Alan Duncan, UK’s Special Envoy to Yemen, who wrote in forthright terms about Yemen’s plight and spoke directly to senior figures in Saudi and the Gulf

Meeting with Rt Hon Desmond Swayne, DFID Minister, an encouraging and frank discussion involving the DFID senior Yemen team, on overcoming the challenges of aid delivery in the midst of military conflict

Meetings with Edmund Fitton-Brown, UK Ambassador to Yemen, who has proved generous with his time and sharing of key contacts.