Yemen: Political and Humanitarian Situation

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:07 pm on 5th July 2017.

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Photo of Toby Perkins Toby Perkins Labour, Chesterfield 5:07 pm, 5th July 2017

I was on target a few seconds ago.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff South and Penarth has done good work on this. I agree with what my right hon. Friend Keith Vaz said about how we need a humanitarian and political solution to such an urgent humanitarian crisis. We also need to recognise that there will be no military solution—the Saudis themselves acknowledge that there is unlikely to be a military victory and that it will be about terms on which the peace discussions take place.

Any breaches of international humanitarian law are unforgivable. I entirely agree with the need to have an independent UN-led inquiry into them. However, I am conscious that all the discussion in this debate has been about the Saudi side. I understand what my hon. Friend said about the fact that we are supplying only one side, but we should remember that the whole conflict started because the Iran-backed Houthis came in and took over from the internationally recognised Government. If we take a one-sided approach to this, I am concerned about the message we will be sending.

The International Trade Committee supported the UN Security Council resolution to support the intervention by the Saudis in the first place. Of course the Saudis should act in line with international humanitarian law and of course people should be held to account if they have breached that, but if all our focus is on one side we will be heading towards dangerous territory.

I am also keen to hear what the Minister has to say about how we can get a political solution to back up the immediate humanitarian solution that is required that actually puts pressure on the Houthis to recognise that they were the initial perpetrators and holds other people to account.