I have shared deep concerns about potential violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen for several years now. My Labour colleagues and I have repeatedly called on the Government to immediately suspend the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia for use in the war on Yemen pending a comprehensive and independent investigation of all alleged war crimes. 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 believe the Government should also halt all conventional UK military operations in Yemen.
Over 10,000 people have been killed in the ongoing conflict since 2015 and the humanitarian situation in many parts of the country is extremely dire. The UN estimates that 80% of the population – 24 million people – require some form of humanitarian or protection assistance, including 14.3 million who are in acute need.
There is no military solution to this conflict and it is vital that a peaceful, negotiated resolution can be secured. The agreement reached in Stockholm and the adoption of Resolution 2451 by the UN Security Council in December 2018 was one of few moments of hope in Yemen since the conflict began. However, I recognise the fragility of the Stockholm agreement. I hope the Government will therefore look towards the next steps in brokering a ceasefire, and a political settlement, for the whole country.
The people of Yemen have suffered so much throughout this conflict and resolving it could not be more urgent. A political settlement is absolutely vital for the peace, security and stability of Yemen and the health and well-being of the Yemeni people. I believe the Government must use all its influence to play its part in bringing this about.