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Volume 616: debated on Monday 7 November 2016

4. What recent support the armed forces have provided to the military campaign of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. (907092)

The UK is not a member of the Saudi Arabian-led coalition. British armed forces personnel are therefore not involved in selecting targets, carrying out strikes, or directing or conducting operations in Yemen.

The UK continues to supply arms to Saudi Arabia, despite repeated bombing of civilian targets and non-governmental organisation hospitals in Yemen. The most conservative figures from the United Nations Human Rights Council demonstrate that there have been at least 10,000 casualties and 4,000 confirmed dead in a country facing humanitarian disaster. Will the Minister and the Secretary of State heed the previous call by the Business, Innovation and Skills and the International Development Committees to end export licences for these arms, or are these casualties just considered a fair price to pay?

We will be responding to those reports imminently, but I want to put on record that we have one of the most robust arms export control regimes in the world. We are aware of the alleged violations that the hon. Lady mentions and we take alleged violations in this conflict extremely seriously.

I am sure the Minister will agree that in this situation we have to be careful what we wish for, given the alternatives. Will she outline what support the UK Government are giving to the parties involved to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law?

My hon. Friend is right to say that in this situation the UK particularly supports a political solution. We believe that this is the best way to bring long-term stability to Yemen and to end the conflict. With respect to ongoing support, the UK backed UN resolution 2216, as my hon. Friend knows, and we have an ongoing defence engagement relationship with the Saudi Arabian Government.

Last Monday, the Security Council discussed Yemen for the first time in six months. I observed the proceedings. There was unanimous support for an immediate ceasefire and the four-point plan put forward by Matthew Rycroft, our ambassador. Will the Minister speak to the Foreign Secretary in person or through the Defence Secretary to ensure that a new resolution is tabled as soon as possible so that it can be discussed and passed, and the humanitarian and military crisis can be dealt with?

The right hon. Gentleman, who pays such close interest to this subject, will be aware that the UK continues strongly to support the work of the UN special envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, and we strongly support a political solution. I will certainly pass on the sentiments he has just expressed to colleagues in the Foreign Office.