Skip to main content

Yemen: Humanitarian Aid

Volume 634: debated on Wednesday 17 January 2018

Donor countries have spent over $2 billion in humanitarian aid in 2017. This does not capture all the aid flows to Yemen, including significant contributions from Gulf countries who channel much of their aid independently. The UK is the second largest donor to the UN Yemen appeal and the third largest donor to Yemen in the world.

The Minister will be aware that the 30-day relaxation of the blockade on Hodeidah port expires at the end of this week, and even while it has been in place, a combination of its temporary nature and the action of intermediaries has pushed up prices so many people have not been able to afford the food, fuel and medicines that have been able to come in. So what can the international community do to ensure that supplies continue to reach people in Yemen and they are able to stave off the famine that still affects over 8 million people?

We are working hard to ensure that commercial and humanitarian access to Yemen remains unhindered. It is vital that both commercial and humanitarian aid gets through. The hon. Gentleman is right to raise this, and the UK is working hard to make sure that process continues to deal with the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

UNICEF’s report this week highlights the appalling impact on children of the conflict in Yemen. Will the Minister examine the proposal from War Child that at least 1% of humanitarian funding should be devoted to mental health and psycho-social support?

I will be very happy to see that proposal; I have not seen it yet. Looking after psychological and mental health used to be seen as some kind of benevolent add-on in terms of aid and support. Bearing in mind the crisis and trauma that so many youngsters go through, it is very important that it is brought right up front and the UK is a firm advocate of that. I will certainly look at the report.

As we all know, there are no winners in war, and in comments to The Daily Telegraph before Christmas the Secretary of State correctly said that Saudi Arabia has “no excuses” for blocking food and fuel shipments to Yemen. Is it not therefore sheer hypocrisy and simply inexcusable that her Government are providing billions of pounds-worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia when 7 million Yemeni people are facing the worst famine in decades?

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development made a significant contribution to humanitarian access by visiting Djibouti and Riyadh just before 20 December, and the resulting decision has improved humanitarian access there. Arms sales are strictly controlled, as the House well knows. We will continue our support for the coalition, which is fighting a serious insurgency and armed support from outside Yemen directed against it, but we will be firm in our determination to see an end to the conflict, which is the only thing that will resolve the humanitarian crisis.