Conflict in Yemen and arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Over 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since 2015 and the humanitarian situation in many parts of the country is extremely dire. Indeed, the UN estimates that almost 18 million people are food insecure and over 8 million people are at risk of starvation. Millions more also lack access to safe water and sanitation or adequate access to healthcare.

There is no military solution to this conflict and it is vital that a peaceful, negotiated resolution can be secured. It is incredibly disappointing therefore that, despite promises from the Government to bring a ceasefire resolution to the UN Security Council in October 2016, there has still been no progress on this.

I have shared my deep concern about potential violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) in Yemen for some time now. This is why I support a comprehensive, independent, UN-led investigation into alleged violations of IHL in Yemen. I also believe the Government should impose an immediate suspension on any further arms sales for use in the Yemen conflict until such an investigation has concluded. It is the Government’s responsibility to apply its own criteria on arms sales and any perception that it is failing to do so will seriously undermine the UK in the eyes of the world.

I am particularly worried about the recent start of military operations, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, in the port city of Hodeidah. Hodeidah is a key point of entry for commercial and humanitarian supplies into Yemen. It is vital that all parties respect IHL, prioritise the protection of civilians and ensure that food, fuel and medical supplies can continue reach those in need.

Human rights should be at the heart of our foreign policy and resolving this situation could not be more urgent. The people of Yemen have suffered so much throughout this ongoing conflict and the Government must now play its part in bringing it to an end. I have long been calling on the Government to use its influence to secure a UN resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire and resumption of peace talks in Yemen and I can assure you that I will continue to do so.