Thank you for contacting me about the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, and the ongoing crisis in Yemen. I share your concerns for the plight of the Yemini people who are caught up in the conflict.
The Government takes its defence export responsibilities extremely seriously and operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world. All export licence applications, including those for Saudi Arabia, are rigorously assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. These strict criteria take account of all prevailing circumstances at the time of application and includes human rights and international humanitarian law considerations. The Government does not issue export licences where there is a clear risk that the goods might be used for internal repression, in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law, or where the export would provoke or prolong conflict.
Saudi Arabia has publicly stated that it is investigating reports of alleged violations of International Humanitarian Law. This is an important process and the UK is fully behind thorough investigations into all allegations of violations of International Law. Finding a political solution to the conflict in Yemen is the best way to bring long-term stability and peace talks are a top priority. I am confident that by adhering to the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, the Government will continue to ensure that UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia are not used for internal repression, violating international humanitarian law, or for provoking or prolonging conflict. I am reassured that the Government has committed to keeping the situation under continual review, as it does with other countries.
The Government has taken the lead in lobbying across the international community for urgent and unobstructed access for humanitarian assistance into Yemen. The Government continues to call for the modalities for a ceasefire to be agreed. You may be interested to know that the UK proposed and co-ordinated the UN Security Council Presidential Statement earlier this year, which repeated the call for unhindered humanitarian access.
I am proud that the UK is leading the global response to this crisis in Yemen, as the fourth largest humanitarian donor to the country. The Government recently announced an additional £170 million for Yemen, to cover the 2018/19 financial year. This funding is in addition to the over £400 million of bilateral support from the UK since the conflict began in 2015, and will provide food to 2.5 million Yemeni people.
The UK continues to work hard in order to achieve stability in the region. The Houthi insurgency overthrew a legitimate, United Nations backed Government in Yemen. The insurgency has cruelly executed a number of people including the former President of Yemen and prevented humanitarian aid reaching those most in need. The legitimate Government of Yemen requested the support of its neighbours and allies, including the UK and Saudi Arabia, to help tackle the rebel insurgency.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact me.