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Yemen

Volume 678: debated on Tuesday 30 June 2020

What recent assessment the Government have made of the political and humanitarian situation in Yemen. (904020)

What recent discussions he has had with his international counterparts on securing a permanent ceasefire in Yemen. (904026)

The UK is deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis and conflict in Yemen. We fully support the UN peace process and urge all parties to engage constructively with it. The UK has shown extensive leadership in this response, committing nearly £1 billion in support to Yemen since the conflict began. I recently conducted a virtual visit to Yemen, meeting special envoy Martin Griffiths, Yemeni Foreign Minister al-Hadrami and Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam, and I urged all parties to engage with the UN peace process.

I have been contacted by constituents in Clwyd South about the vital importance of the UK’s humanitarian aid to Yemen. Does the Minister agree that the UK Government’s role in Yemen is a prime example of the joined-up foreign policy and development work that will be needed in the new merged Department?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is impossible to separate our development work from our wider diplomatic work. The greatest step forward that we could have for the people of Yemen is for the conflict to cease, so that we can concentrate solely on humanitarian support. Conflict resolution is a classic function of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Indeed, when I speak to the development partners in country, they prioritise conflict resolution, and the work of DFID and the work of the FCO therefore go hand in hand with supporting the people of Yemen.

There is an urgent and desperate need to continue to work to prevent hunger and suffering in Yemen. Please will my right hon. Friend reassure me that the prioritisation of covid, which is absolutely essential, will not come at the expense of some of the world’s most vulnerable people?

I completely agree that the UK’s response to coronavirus is important, but we have not allowed it to distract us from the important international work. I recently announced considerable funding support for the humanitarian work in Yemen. As I say, I have had extensive conversations with parties right across the board, and indeed with regional countries, to support the Saudi ceasefire and encourage the Houthis also to engage with that ceasefire. We will maintain our responsibility —we will match our responsibility to the people of Yemen, and I can absolutely guarantee that that will continue under this Government.

Yemen is facing a humanitarian disaster. According to UNICEF, there are 1.7 million internally displaced children and 2 million children who are acutely malnourished, so what conversations has the Minister had with other Government Departments to ensure that the UK can play its part in addressing this catastrophe?

The hon. Lady highlights the important work of properly connected government when it comes to UK foreign policy. That is absolutely what under- pins the Prime Minister’s integrated review and his announcement of the merger of DFID and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She is absolutely right to suggest that, in order to protect the people of Yemen most properly, whether young or old, the UK Government must work with a co-ordinated approach. I regularly speak with ministerial colleagues in other Government Departments about Yemen, as well as with our international partners. I thank her for so clearly highlighting why it is important that Government Departments work closely on this, as on other issues.