Several constituents have recently been in touch expressing their fears about the situation taking place in Yemen and I wanted to take this opportunity, following the debate in the House of Commons today (March 2nd) on the matter.
Through engaging with my ministerial colleagues in the FCDO, I understand that this conflict in Yemen is - as is often the case - a multi-faceted complex affair with no easy answers.
I am proud of the place our country holds on the global stage, particularly in those regions where conflict, a breakdown of law and order and/or human rights has come about. Our proven role as a leader in facilitating peace and promoting democratic values must be applauded, and this role will continue as we face ever more uncertainty and strife in so many nations across the world.
On the issue of licensing decisions regarding military exports to Saudi Arabia – something which many constituents have raised - I feel it very important to stress that, in accordance with the Court of Appeal's judgement in June 2019, my ministerial colleague, the Secretary of State for International Trade, The Rt. Hon Liz Truss MP, has now retaken licensing decisions regarding military exports to Saudi Arabia for possible use in the conflict in Yemen on the correct legal basis.
Essentially, new licence applications will be assessed against a revised methodology, which evaluates whether there is a clear risk that the equipment might be used in the commission of a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law. On this basis, I have been told by my ministerial colleagues they are now in a position to begin the process of addressing licence applications for Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners again.
However, have been assured each application will be carefully assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria and a licence will not be granted if to do so would be a breach of the criteria.
I am deeply concerned by this ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis. I was heartened to hear assurances made by my ministerial colleague, the Foreign Minister, James Cleverly MP, in yesterday’s FCDO Oral Questions and the House of Commons debate regarding Yemen (both March 2nd) – in which he stated:
“We are using all our diplomatic and humanitarian expertise to move the peace process forward alongside the UN, the US and our international partners”.
“The UK will provide at least—I repeat, at least—£87 million in aid to Yemen over the course of financial year 2021-22. Our total aid contribution since the conflict began was already over £1 billion. This new pledge will feed an additional 240,000 of the most vulnerable Yemenis every month, support 400 health clinics and provide clean water for 1.6 million people. We will also provide one-off cash support to 1.5 million of Yemen’s poorest households to help them buy food and basic supplies.”
You can read the complete question and answer through the following link: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-03-02/912763
The full debate can be read here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2021-03-02/debates/62AC3E67-7B7A-4B94-898A-8D18B55A7A1C/YemenAidFunding
I remain confident in the UK cooperating with like-minded allies, through speaking out and calling leaders to account on all forms of human rights abuses, and I will continue to engage with ministerial colleagues at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, to ensure the concerns of constituents on these matters are being addressed.