Yemen

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons on 17th July 2019.

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Photo of Clive Lewis Clive Lewis Shadow Minister (Treasury)

What recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

What recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of restricted humanitarian space on the work of NGOs in Yemen.

Photo of Andrew Murrison Andrew Murrison Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

Yemen remains the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with 80% of the population requiring humanitarian assistance, which is not helped by the fact that the operating environment for humanitarian organisations is exceptionally difficult. We call on both parties to the conflict to comply with UN Security Council resolution 2451 by facilitating safe, rapid and unhindered humanitarian access.

Photo of Clive Lewis Clive Lewis Shadow Minister (Treasury)

Last month’s ruling by the Court of Appeal that the Government’s continued licensing of the exporting of military equipment to Saudi Arabia is unlawful offers real hope to the people of Yemen—despite the Government’s hypocrisy in calling for peace while selling arms to the Saudis to bomb and to kill, hampering the work of aid agencies on the ground. What representations will the Secretary of State make in Cabinet finally to end that shameful conduct?

Photo of Andrew Murrison Andrew Murrison Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

The hon. Gentleman will know that our checks and balances on the export of arms are among the world’s finest—he must know that. He also knows that we apply the EU consolidated criteria rigorously. He will also, I hope, have noted the Divisional Court’s view that our process was “rigorous, robust, multi-layered” and that those advising Ministers were “keenly alive” to the possible violation of international humanitarian law. He will also know that the UK Government intend to appeal against the judgment.

Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Women and children have been disproportionately affected by the conflict, so what is the Minister doing to involve women in the process? Further, what work is he doing with organisations such as the Mothers of Abductees Association, which points out that 1,496 people in Yemen have been forcibly disappeared, which causes people huge concern about the whereabouts of their relatives?

Photo of Andrew Murrison Andrew Murrison Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

The hon. Lady is absolutely right to be concerned about those who have disappeared. Along with multilateral organisations, the United Kingdom is at the forefront of mechanisms geared towards ensuring that we know where crimes are potentially being committed and, in the fullness of time, that we are able to follow up on that. I hope that she will approve of the level of support that this country is giving as the penholder and as a major financial contributor to the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

What action is my right hon. Friend taking to ensure that humanitarian aid actually reaches the people who need it and is not being held back by the warring factions in Yemen?

Photo of Andrew Murrison Andrew Murrison Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

My hon. Friend will probably be aware that we have had discussions on that with the World Food Programme, which is a major operator in the situation in Yemen. We support the intent of the World Food Programme, in particular its director David Beasley, to ensure that aid gets to where it is supposed to go, rather than into the pockets of Houthis and others. That process is in its early stages, but it looks like it is being successful and will restore the full effect of the World Food Programme to Sana’a and other areas as soon as possible.