Yemen

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th May 2016.

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Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz Chair, Home Affairs Committee, Chair, Home Affairs Committee 12:00 am, 24th May 2016

What recent assessment he has made of progress in the peace process in Yemen.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The past couple of years have been long and difficult for Yemen, so I very much welcome the cessation of hostilities that began on 10 April and the UN-led talks that began in Kuwait on 21 April.

Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz Chair, Home Affairs Committee, Chair, Home Affairs Committee

Yesterday, a suicide bomb in Aden killed 45 people who were trying to join the Yemeni army. What steps can we take to stop that beautiful city in Yemen, where I and other Members of this House were born, being destroyed by the civil war going on between the various forces?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

First, I pay tribute to the right hon. Gentleman for raising these matters regularly. He has huge expertise on Yemen, and I am pleased that he is able to hold the Government to account on what we are doing in this important area of the middle east. He is right that events are taking place because hardliners want to throw the talks and the cessation of hostilities off track. We encourage both sides to stay firm in their commitment to a political solution, not least because of the humanitarian catastrophe taking place.

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Labour/Co-operative, Cardiff South and Penarth

A series of serious allegations were made yesterday by Amnesty International about the alleged use of UK-manufactured cluster munitions against civilians in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition. Did the Minister, or any UK personnel operating in Saudi Arabia or Yemen, have any knowledge that those cluster munitions were being used? If so, what action has been taken?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

That is probably more a question for the Ministry of Defence, but from my understanding—my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has just confirmed this—we are not at all aware of this. Let me make it clear that the munitions that the hon. Gentleman has mentioned are almost three decades old. They are probably past their sell-by date, and it would be dangerous for anybody to go anywhere near them.