A campaigning MP has issued a plea to UK Ministers to act without delay and stop Yemen from descending into further chaos and crisis as it teeters on the brink of famine.
Co-leading a House of Commons debate on the second anniversary of the Yemen civil war, Alison Thewliss – MP for Glasgow Central – called upon UK Ministers to intervene and ensure humanitarian aid gets into the country.
Thewliss, who is an Officer of the Parliament’s APPG on Yemen, said that the situation in Yemen is incredibly precarious, with 1.2 million public sector workers unpaid since September 2016. In addition, 3 million people have been displaced and 7 million Yemenis are on the brink of starvation.
Ms Thewliss’ speech focussed on the need for opening up access for humanitarian aid and food imports, which is being hampered by both parties to the conflict. She called on Ministers to secure the port of Hodeida, which has been bombarded by Saudi air strikes. On a practical level, she asked Ministers to help get cranes installed which would speed up the importing of much needed food.
Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:
“Yemen is in dire straits. Acute and severe malnutrition is resulting in innocent children dying needlessly. There have been a suspected 22,000 cholera cases in the last six months and, heartbreakingly, 63,000 children died in 2016 from preventable causes linked to malnutrition. This is a political decision; blockades by the Saudi-led coalition are preventing and delaying aid agencies from getting food into the region. Military action
“The UK talks a good game when it comes to international aid for Yemen and it’s right to say that £85 million has been given in the last year. The UK Government is less keen to trumpet its revenue from Saudi Arms, with 143 licences granted at an eye watering value of £3.3bn. These arms are causing deaths, injuries and destruction of vital infrastructure in the port of Hodeida.
“Yemen has been debated many times in Parliament. The time for talk is over – we need firm action now to help some of the most vulnerable people and children on the face of the planet who are seeking shelter every day from the British-made bombs being dropped on them by Saudi Arabia.
“Without an immediate ceasefire and a political settlement, Yemen’s people will continue to be starved in a man-made and preventable famine. The UK Government must act for peace in Yemen.”