I appreciate the concerns about the awful events transpiring in Yemen. I was born there, so this is a country very close to my heart and I have been following what is happening there closely. Earlier this year I was pleased to set up the Yemen All-Party Parliamentary Group. Although sadly I am unable to run it due to my Government position, it campaigns to raise awareness amongst MPs and the wider public about the civil war and famine in Yemen and push the Government to work on bringing about peace.
Sadly, due the Yemen’s own internal strife, it is not as simple as blaming the Saudis or any other single party. We must work to bring all parties together and I am pleased that the UK has played a leading role in this effort to date. I will continue to push the Government for us to maintain our focus on this, in support of the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and the UN Special Envoy’s peace plan. I welcome the unilateral ceasefire announced by Saudi Arabia on 8 April, which has been extended, and it is more important than ever that all parties seize this opportunity for progress in Yemen.
The UK’s long-standing position on Yemen is that there is no military solution to this conflict, and only a political settlement can bring long-term stability to Yemen and tackle the worsening humanitarian crisis. I have been assured that the UK is not a party to the military conflict as part of the Saudi-led coalition, and until the Government retakes export license decisions in line with the Court of Appeal’s judgment, or a successful appeal against the judgment concludes, the Government is under an obligation not to grant any new licences to export items to Saudi Arabia for possible use in the conflict in Yemen.
You are quite right to raise the awful situation on the ground for civilians, including many thousands of children, who live in incredible poverty and are facing famine and disease. Humanitarian aid from around the world is vital. I am proud that, since the conflict began, the UK has committed £970 million of funding, which has helped meet the immediate food needs of millions of Yemenis, treated thousands of children for malnutrition and provided over one million people with improved water supply and basic sanitation.