EP debates dire humanitarian situation in Yemen

“Yemen mustn't become a forgotten conflict" – Alyn Smith MEP

Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday (Wednesday) Alyn Smith MEP, member of the Foreign Affair’s Committee questioned the legality of the air strikes led by the Saudi-led coalition, supported by the US and the UK, which led to the humanitarian crisis and atrocities in Yemen.

During a debate on the worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen, Scottish MEP spoke in favour of a resolution calling for a humanitarian pause to allow life-saving assistance to reach Yemeni people.

Speaking after the debate Alyn said:

“Yemen mustn’t become a forgotten conflict while the international community is preoccupied with the threat from Islamic State’s advances in Syria and Iraq.

“Human rights and humanitarian situation in Yemen is worsening and civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict. The blocking of access to food and clean water, shortages of essential medical supplies and fuel have reached critical levels, leaving 20 million people in need of aid in one of the poorest countries in the Middle East.

“On Tuesday this week the United Nations’ human rights office said the number of civilians killed in the violence had risen above 1,500, with 3,600 injured and 1 million displaced in three months of violence. We must recognise that air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition, supported by the US and the UK, have led to a humanitarian crisis and atrocities. I would also question the legality of this intervention, which must be scrutinised by EU member states. 

“Saudis overtook India last year as the world's biggest importer of defence equipment and the regime is the UK's biggest arms export market. Saudi regime is using UK-produced weapons and aircrafts against the people of Yemen while the UK Government, in Philip Hammond’s own words, is pledging to "support the Saudis in every practical way short of engaging in combat".

“On Monday alone, coalition bombing of a market killed 41 civilians and six rebels; Human Rights Watch reported airstrikes on civilian homes, five markets, a school, and a petrol station, though there was no evidence these sites were being used for military purposes.

“We must remember that this conflict has wider implications for the region and only extremists, al-Qaida and to a lesser degree ISIS are gaining amid the chaos, tearing Yemen apart.

“International human rights law and international humanitarian law must be respected and member states, including the UK have a responsibility to ensure they do not directly or indirectly support violations of human rights in Yemen.

“There are some good examples to follow, with Stockholm recently shredding a long-term arms trade agreement with the Saudis. However, there is little hope the UK will be next.”

You can watch Alyn's speech in full either below or on his YouTube channel