Last week, I secured a debate alongside Stephen Twigg MP on the crisis in Yemen and was pleased to see a number of colleagues make informative and powerful speeches on what is an issue of huge significance to the international community.
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is at a critical stage, with 3.1 million people having been displaced and sources of food and water being restricted. The number of civilians that have been killed as a consequence of the conflict stands at over 4,000, with over 7,000 wounded. Maintaining a spotlight on the conflict is vital, with the Minister in his place in the House of Commons to hear the strength of feeling on all sides of the Chamber.
Following the Committees on Arms Export Controls inquiry last year that I chaired into the sale of UK arms to Saudi Arabia, I particularly stressed during my speech the need to suspend arms exports to the country, pending the results of an independent UN-led investigation into potential breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL). There have been reports from a number of organisations, including NGOs and legal experts, which suggest IHL has been broken.
The UK must maintain its reputation as an example to the world in terms of our arms export licensing regime. Saudi Arabia is an important ally in the Middle East and our relationship must remain strong, but we must also challenge its actions when issues of such serious concern arise. This underpins the conclusions of the joint report of the Business, Innovation and Skills and International Development Select Committees following our inquiry last year.
To read my speech, please visit my page on hansard.parliament.uk.
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