Bishop of St Albans asks about Yemen: humanitarian aid, weapons, and peace

On 25th and 28th March 2019 the Bishop of St Albans received answers to four written questions on Yemen: humanitarian aid, weapons, and peace:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans

(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of access to humanitarian aid (1) entering, and (2) being distributed in Yemen. HL14603

(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have received any information from third parties about use of weapons supplied by British companies in the Yemen conflict. HL14604

(iii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much they spent funding (1) local peace actors, (2) aid partners, and (3) others involved in promoting a path to peace in the Yemen conflict. HL14602

(iv) To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following the visit to Aden by the Foreign Secretary, whether they have had any further discussion with the UN’s Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen and other local powers about finding a sustainable peace in that country; and if so, what agreements have been reached between the UK and others. HL14605

Answers:

(i) Lord Bates: The vital Red Sea ports of Hodeidah and Saleef remain operational. Over the past three months, the average total commercial and humanitarian imports into Yemen met 90% of the country’s food needs and almost 80% of fuel needs.

We are acutely aware of the restrictions humanitarian actors face delivering aid across Yemen, particularly in Houthi-controlled areas. This includes bureaucratic obstacles such as long waits for visas and permits to start aid projects, as well as multiple permissions required to travel through checkpoints.

In response to these challenges, former Minister of State, Alistair Burt recently hosted a telephone conference call with the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, and the key UN agencies operating in Yemen where he discussed the steps needed from donors to lobby for better access as well as the work needed from the UN to ensure the humanitarian response prioritises those most in need.

The UK continues to raise humanitarian concerns calling on both parties to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 2451 by facilitating safe, rapid, and unhindered access for both the humanitarian response and commercial supplies.

(ii) Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: A number of third parties, including NGOs and international organisations, publish regular reports and analysis which detail political and humanitarian developments in Yemen. This information is taken into account and considered as a serious part of any licencing decisions made by the Export Control Joint Unit, the UK’s arms export control licensing authority, which is responsible for making assessments against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. The FCO also engages in regular dialogue with NGOs and international organisations about the latest developments and any details provided about the changing situation are also taken in account for any export licence decisions made.

(iii) Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: On 24 February, the Prime Minister announced that the UK would be providing £200 million of funding for the 2019/20 financial year in response to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The UK is supporting Yemen through £6.6 million of funding from CSSF Fund this year. This funding will support different programmes, including bolstering the UN’s capacity to facilitate the peace process, working with groups formally outside the formal peace process and establishing long-lasting conflict resolution mechanisms in Yemeni communities.

(iv) Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: We work closely with our partners in the UN, including the Group of Eminent Experts, whose work underlines the deeply concerning human rights situation and the importance of reaching a political solution to the Yemeni conflict. All parties must work with the UN to implement agreements made in Stockholm.