The political situation on the ground in Yemen is extremely complex. The military coalition led by Saudi Arabia supporting the deposed Hadi Government is currently engaged in action against the Houthi-led Supreme Revolutionary Council. This is further complicated by the capture of Aden by the secessionist Southern Transitional Council, who are hostile to both the Houthi and Hadi factions, and want to restore South Yemen. The numerous internal non-state actors including terrorist groups such as Ansar al-Sharia, Al-Qaeda and ISIS are further adding to the chaos and suffering of the Yemeni people.
The UK’s long-standing position on the situation in Yemen is that there is no military solution to this conflict, and only a political settlement can restore long-term stability to Yemen and tackle the worsening humanitarian crisis. The UK has been at the forefront of international efforts to bring a peaceful solution to the appalling conflict in Yemen, fully supporting the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and the UN Special Envoy’s peace plan. I welcome the unilateral ceasefire announced by Saudi Arabia on 8 April, which has been extended, and it is more important than ever that all parties seize this opportunity for progress in Yemen.
Regarding arms exports, the recent Court of Appeal Judgement on the processes used to reach decisions on granting arms export licences to Saudi Arabia is awaiting a hearing in Supreme Court. Nonetheless, I understand that the Government is carefully considering the implications of the Court of Appeal Judgement for export licence decision-making, and is working to enable the re-taking of decisions on the correct legal basis. Until these decisions are retaken or a successful appeal against the judgement concludes, the Government is under an obligation not to grant any new licences to export items to Saudi Arabia for possible use in the conflict in Yemen.
It is vital that a political settlement is found to halt the immense human suffering being experienced in Yemen. The UK is leading the international community to do more to respond to the crisis there. Indeed, since the conflict began, the UK has committed £970 million of funding, which has helped meet the immediate food needs of millions of Yemenis, treated thousands of children for malnutrition and provided more than one million people with an improved water supply and basic sanitation. This funding is absolutely vital to the 24 million people estimated by the UN to be in need of some form of humanitarian assistance and protection.