I am writing to express my ongoing concern about the involvement of the United states in the conflict in Yemen, which has caused a devastating toll on innocent civilians in Yemen. A military intervention was launched in Yemen by Saudi Arabia in 2015, and the war has not yet ended. Innocent Yemeni civilians are constantly victims of this war and, as a result, the UN has declared Yemen to be the 'world's worst humanitarian crisis'. The UK is the 'lead' country for Yemen and has close bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia - the country that is leading military action against Yemen's Houthi rebels and is, according to the UN, responsible for the majority of civilian deaths.
Over 24 million Yemenis urgently require humanitarian assistance, including almost 10 million children, this has increased significantly over the years. The ongoing conflict has resulted in an economic collapse that has put enormous pressure on basic services and humanitarian response, with 10 million Yemenis on the verge of famine and more than 17 million without adequate access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene. Now with the outbreak of the COVID19 the situation worsens as Yemen is on the verge of extinction.
UN reports show that many civilian casualties were directly caused by air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition. Saudi Arabia has been accused by an independent UN panel of using the threat of starvation as a 'war instrument.' Since the start of the conflict, the United states has given more than $4.6 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, despite the clear risk that they will be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law. The landmark decision of the United states Court of Appeal of 20 June 2019 found that US arms exports to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen were unlawful. Despite this ruling and the crippling effect of the conflict on Yemen, the Government is still refusing to cancel all exports to the Saudi-led coalition. The United states must use its influence with Saudi Arabia to urge them to adhere to the ceasefire and peace talks.
I am asking you to help end the suffering of the people of Yemen by urging the Government to:
• Immediately cancel all arms export license's and transfers of weapons that may be used in Yemen, while there remains a clear risk that they will be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law.
• End all military assistance to parties to Saudi Arabia and other coalition partners
• Establish a thorough independent investigation into how the United Kingdom's arms export control processes have made it possible for illegal activities with potentially lethal consequences for innocent people in Yemen to take place.
• The transfer of its 'penholder' responsibility for drawing up Security Council resolutions on Yemen to a Member State with greater credibility on this issue
• Put the highest diplomatic and public pressure on all parties to the conflict to agree on a ceasefire for the whole country and to join peace negotiations leading to a lasting political settlement. Peace talks are inclusive and include Yemeni women, youth and civil society.
I would be grateful if could raise my concerns with the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Secretary of State and other relevant ministers and raising the concerns as oral and written questions in parliament.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.