Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia that are helping to fuel it.
As you know, Yemen remains the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis. Millions of people have been forced from their homes, face acute malnutrition and need humanitarian assistance. On top of this, Yemen must also face the coronavirus pandemic with a shattered health system.
The UK has not been simply a bystander to this suffering. Our arms, training and technical support sustain the war in Yemen and the humanitarian disaster it has created. I have therefore long supported calls for the Government to stop all UK arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition for use in Yemen.
I believe the decision last July to dismiss the risk of Saudi Arabia committing war crimes and to resume selling it arms was completely wrong, and directly contradicted by the findings of the UN Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen. With the US now having announced a suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen, the Government’s failure to change course risks leaving it not only in the wrong morally but also out of step with the UK’s allies and isolated internationally. It needs to take the opportunity of President Biden’s review of US policy on Yemen to take the long overdue step of suspending UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia for use in the conflict in Yemen.
As the penholder for Yemen at the UN, the UK cannot carry out its proper role in reinvigorating the peace process if we are arming one side of the conflict. We must demonstrate that we stand alongside President Biden in demanding an end to this war by supporting UN-led initiatives to impose a ceasefire, open humanitarian corridors and restore peace talks. It is vital that we help sustain the momentum required to end this brutal conflict, bring all parties back to the negotiating table, and stop the suffering of the Yemeni people.
I can assure you that I will continue to support efforts to keep up pressure on the Government to act on this issue so we can achieve the lasting peace and humanitarian relief that the people of Yemen so desperately need.