I share your concerns regarding the crisis in Yemen and the plight of the Yemeni people who are caught up in the conflict. I can assure you that the Government fully recognises the severity of the humanitarian crisis.
In February, the Prime Minister announced new UK aid worth £200 million to help millions of people at risk of starvation in Yemen, bringing the total that the UK has committed since the start of the four-year conflict to £770 million. This additional aid will provide vital food assistance right across the country to those most at risk of dying from starvation and disease, meeting the immediate food needs of more than 1 million Yemenis each month over the year, treating 30,000 children for malnutrition and providing over 1 million people with improved water supply and basic sanitation.
There can be no military solution to this conflict. A political settlement is the only way to provide long term stability to Yemen and address the worsening humanitarian crisis; and I know that Ministers are encouraging further constructive engagement from both parties to achieve this.
The Foreign Secretary recently hosted a meeting of the Quad nations in London. At the meeting, the Quad nations (the UK, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the US) underlined their commitment to a comprehensive political solution for the conflict in Yemen and endorsed the agreements reached in Stockholm at the end of last year.
The recent Court of Appeal judgment does not undermine the UK’s overall framework for export controls as set out in the consolidated criteria. These criteria have stood the test of time and are shared by EU member states. The court’s judgment is about how decisions were made in relation to one element of one of these criteria in a specific context.
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.
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.