Kirsten Oswald MP, SNP spokesperson on armed forces, has said the UK government needs to take a ‘long hard look‘ at the way it is dealing with the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and that it should put ‘peace deals ahead of arms deals.’
Kirsten Oswald was commenting in response to parliamentary answers she received confirming that the UK had not raised the crisis in Yemen at any key meetings of EU foreign ministers for two years. In addition foreign secretary Boris Johnson has backed continued arms sales to Saudi Arabia even after Saudi air strikes on a funeral in Yemen left 140 people dead and hundreds more injured
The situation in Yemen is dire and the UK government has consistently failed the Yemeni people as they focus on their overwhelming priority of a Hard Brexit.
Every month, ministers from EU member states meet to discuss Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development matters in the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union. In response to a parliamentary question, the Foreign Office disclosed that the Council’s last substantive discussion on the humanitarian situation in Yemen was in February 2015. The UK has to take a role in this – even if the Tories are set to take us out of the EU.
Kirsten Oswald MP commented: “It is increasingly clear that the UK government are presiding over a long catalogue of strategic and ethical failures in Yemen – which include the failure even to raise the issue in EU forums - while still selling arms, equipment and expertise to the Saudis.
“Boris Johnson and the whole UK government need to take a long hard look at their role in this humanitarian tragedy - but they are so bogged down in their Hard Brexit plans – it just carries on and gets worse and worse.
“For two years, as the crisis deepened, the government has allowed Yemen to fall by the wayside within the EU Foreign Affairs Council.
“This is all the worse as British-made cluster bombs were used on Yemen while ministers denied their use. Then the Saudi government revealed that cluster munitions had been used by their air force, which has UK advisors embedded within it.
“The United Nations estimates that 63,000 Yemeni children died last year from preventable causes, linked to malnutrition.
“Yemen is a humanitarian catastrophe, and it is time the UK government and the Foreign Secretary in particular – put peace deals ahead of arms deals.”