Yemen: Political and Humanitarian Situation

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:56 pm on 5th July 2017.

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Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cities), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury) 4:56 pm, 5th July 2017

I absolutely agree with the right hon. Gentleman. I pay tribute to him for going to Yemen with Oxfam, as well as to Oxfam for its work on the ground.

After first mentioning that more than 2 million children under the age of 5 are acutely malnourished, including half a million who are at the most extreme level of that critical danger, I was going to come on to the situation with the cranes and the ports. The World Food Programme has, I understand, been refused access for the four new mobile cranes that it had provided to aid the situation. Could the Minister provide any further updates on the situation with the cranes? If food and medical supplies cannot get in, we are unlikely to see any alleviation of the problem.

It is not just about access to Hodeidah port. There is no access to Sana’a Airport, and the route through Aden is at capacity; people cannot get anything more through there. The aid that is getting through Aden is then subject to an overland journey, which is, as hon. Members can imagine, very difficult and extremely dangerous in a conflict situation for the aid agencies involved. They are having to take aid overland. Had access been possible, that aid could quite easily have gone through Hodeidah port.

On 2 July, the World Health Organisation managed to get a shipment in through Hodeidah, which included 20 ambulances, 100 cholera kits, hospital equipment and 128,000 bags of intravenous fluids. It sounds like big numbers, and it was a 403 tonne shipment that they managed to get in—but there are 200,000 cases of cholera. That is not even enough bags of intravenous fluids for every person that has cholera. It is a drop in the ocean in terms of the need in that region; there is a need to get aid in quickly and to prevent any further delays. We must make all the efforts we can to make sure that aid gets to the people that need it and gets there now. The people in Yemen cannot wait any longer.

I am glad that Stephen Doughty mentioned the issue of arms sales. It is absolutely clear that aid agencies that are working so hard on the ground are being impeded in their work by the bombs falling from the sky above them and the danger that they face every single day. They cannot provide the services that they would like to, because they are constantly under attack.