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Humanitarian breaches in Yemen need independent investigation

4 May 2016

International Development Committee report finds strong evidence that delivery of aid relief is still undermined by on-going breaches of international humanitarian law.

Through correspondence with the Foreign Secretary (published as an appendix to the report), the Committee understands that the Government wants Saudi Arabia, "first and foremost" to conduct thorough and conclusive investigations into breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL). 

However, evidence to the Committee's inquiry strongly suggests that IHL is being breached, making the relief effort difficult and dangerous. Schools, health and vital water and nutrition supplies are at risk while the civilian population bears the brunt of the fighting. Yemen faces one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with 82% of the population in need of assistance.

Chair's comments

Stephen Twigg MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

"In light of the reports of violations of IHL by the Saudi-Arabia-led Coalition, the Committee welcomes the current inquiry by the Committees on Arms Exports Controls (CAEC) to consider the use of UK-manufactured arms in Yemen.

The IDC recommends that CAEC considers the case for suspending UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia until there is evidence that no 'clear risk' that arms exported from the UK might be used in the commission of a serious violation of IHL in the country.

Meanwhile the Yemeni population is really suffering. The Committee commends DFID for acting swiftly and efficiently to reach people in dire need and contributing £85 million so far.

However, the UK Government should look at the evidence presented in our report and consider carefully the paradox at play here.

Finally, Ministers must continue to apply pressure on all parties to the conflict to agree to the next round of peace talks and ensure they are inclusive and represent the needs of the Yemeni population."

Further information

Image: PA