On 30th October 2019 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a question about the situation in Yemen, on behalf of the Bishop of St Albans, who was unable to attend:
Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the deal brokered by the government of Saudi Arabia in Yemen and the prospects for lasting peace there.
Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in the name of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans, who apologises for the fact that he cannot be in his place today.
The Earl of Courtown (Con): My Lords, the UK welcomes signs of progress through the Saudi-led talks to bring together the Government of Yemen and the Southern Transitional Council to reach a peaceful settlement following the clashes in Aden in August. This has further demonstrated the need for inclusive political talks through the UN-led peace process. The UK urges all parties to engage constructively with the UN special envoy Martin Griffiths to broker a sustainable peace for all of Yemen.
Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his response and I share his support for any initiative that brings peace to Yemen, but this deal brokered by the KSA brings only limited opportunities for a peaceful future in the region. After four years and seven months, almost 100,000 people have died—84,000 children from starvation, and 2,500 from cholera. What pressure are Her Majesty’s Government putting on Saudi and Emirati opposites to secure an immediate cessation to the wider war in Yemen?
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On 25th June 2019 the Bishop of St Albans asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the impact of weapons exported from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia on the conflict in Yemen”. The Lord Bishop, Rt Revd Alan Smith, then asked a follow-up question:
Earl of Courtown (Con): My Lords, Her Majesty’s Government take their arms export responsibilities seriously. We draw on a range of sources in making assessments, including from NGOs and international organisations which detail political and humanitarian developments in Yemen. We also consult regularly with colleagues at our overseas missions and in other government departments to ensure that we have all the relevant information to make an informed decision.
Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for his reply. I was given an assurance in a past written response to a Question that every sale of arms from the UK undergoes a rigorous assessment in the light of serious violations of international humanitarian law. Yet in 2018 a Minister in the other place said:
“The MOD does not investigate allegations of IHL violations”,
and in 2016, as evidenced in the Court of Appeal last week, the decision was made that there would be no assessment of past violations of international humanitarian law with regard to Saudi Arabia. Can the Minister clarify whether international humanitarian law is taken into consideration when selling weapons?
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On 10th April 2019 the Bishops of Coventry and St Albans received written answers to questions on the war in Yemen: efforts to bring the conflict to an end, and the use of weapons made or sold by British companies –
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: (HL14938) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to facilitate an end to the war in Yemen.
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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
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On 14th January 2019, Lord Ahmed tabled an Oral Question ‘To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the humanitarian situation in Yemen.’ The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, as well as the huge famine—I congratulate Her Majesty’s Government on what they are doing to respond to it—we are also seeing unfold before our eyes a huge medical crisis, with possibly the largest cholera epidemic in recorded history. Will the Minister update us on what plans and action are being taken with our partners to bring in medical help urgently to try to address this unparalleled, Dickensian level of preventable disease?
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On 6th November 2018 the Earl of Sandwich asked the Government “what steps they are taking to help end the famine caused by the war in Yemen.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, what representations have Her Majesty’s Government made to the KSA and UAE about the use of British-built military hardware, which some people are really concerned could be used for, as is being alleged, war crimes? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about use of British-built military hardware by Saudia Arabia and UAE”