Yemen

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:26 pm on 20th November 2017.

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Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cities), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury) 4:26 pm, 20th November 2017

I very much agree with the comments of Fabian Hamilton and Mr Mitchell. I thank the Minister for giving me advance sight of the statement. I am glad to hear that there is dialogue, but we need to hear an awful lot more in this House about actions.

I, too, understand the difficulties facing the Saudis regarding the attack on Riyadh, which of course we also condemn. There needs to be a recognition of the two sides to this conflict—at least two, if one counts al-Qaeda. We know about the sophisticated weaponry that the Saudis have because the UK sold it to them. The £155 million in aid that the Minister talks about is dwarfed by the £3.8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia. There are daily reports of Yemeni civilians on the ground being hit by Saudi airstrikes. Will he speak a little more about those?

Aid agencies have reported for years the difficulties of getting aid into Yemen and across Yemen, including the difficulties involved in getting visas and moving goods and people around the country. Only recently, I heard from the head of Islamic Relief. When he visited to see how the organisation’s projects were going, he was unable to travel around the country because of the visa system that is in operation.

Despite the UN verification and inspection mechanism, Save the Children reports that 13 ships carrying vital humanitarian aid were denied entry to Yemen. What are the UK Government doing to get air and sea ports open, especially when those aid convoys are quite clearly aid convoys and they do not contain missiles? It is fine to say that the Government are providing funding, but without access and without workers on the ground who can deliver it, it is almost meaningless.

The population of Yemen are deliberately being starved by the country’s neighbours, which are key allies of the UK. Today is International Children’s Day. Save the Children reports that 130 children in Yemen will die today, tomorrow, the next day and each day until this conflict ends. Will the Minister tell us how he will stop this?