Skip to main content

Yemen child hunger crisis raised in urgent question

21 November 2018

Image of UK Parliament portcullis

Emily Thornberry, the Labour Shadow Foreign & Commonwealth Secretary used an urgent question to examine the government response to the crisis in Yemen.

UK Charity, Save the Children, yesterday announced that 85,000 children under the age of five may have starved to death in the war torn country. Three years ago, conflict broke out between Iran aligned Houthi rebel forces and the Hadi government, which has been backed by a coalition of Arab states, including Saudi Arabia.

The UK is currently the UN "pen-holder" for Yemen, and in 2016 delivered a draft resolution for a ceasefire, which was withdrawn after Saudi and British officials agreed "a continuous and joint agreement" to handle the crisis.

The interim period has been marked by continued violence, an escalating humanitarian crisis, particularly in the face of fighting over the key port of Hudaydah, which is choking supply of food and aid to the region. There has also been increasing international criticism of Saudi Arabia's actions following actions including airstrikes on civilian targets and the Jamal Khashoggi murder.

On Monday 19 November, the UN again circulated a draft agreement to its security council, urging parties to relaunch negotiations and take urgent steps to address the humanitarian crisis, including a ceasefire in Hudaydah.

In an article for the Independent on Monday, The Shadow Minister said,

"There is a stark truth at the heart of that 2016 draft resolution, which is as true today as it was then: 'The humanitarian situation will continue to deteriorate in the absence of a peace agreement that leads to a durable solution to the conflict.'”

Emily Thornberry asked if the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, would make a statement on the UK's effort to secure a new UN Security Council resolution on Yemen.

The Foreign Secretary replied and stated that the conflict in Yemen has become one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world. He went on to confirm that about 22 million people across Yemen (80%) of the population, are in need of help.

The Foreign Secretary confirmed that last week he instructed the UK mission at the United Nations to circulate a draft resolution to the Security Council urging a durable cessation of hostilities throughout Hudaydah province and calling on the parties to cease all attacks on densely populated civilian areas across Yemen. He also confirmed that the draft resolution also requires the unhindered flow of food and medicine and all other forms of aid across the country. He also pledged that the UK will make every effort and use all the diplomatic assets available to support Martin Griffiths, the United Nations special envoy, as he seeks to resolve the current crisis.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, thanked the Government for its recent efforts and welcomed the opportunity to discuss the draft resolution which is to go before the UN tomorrow.

Follow the @HouseofCommons on Twitter for updates on the UK House of Commons Chamber.

Please fill in our quick feedback survey to help us improve our news content.