UK's International Development Committee - Government and stakeholders questioned on humanitarian crisis in Yemen

Wednesday 27 January 2016, Committee Room 8, Palace of Westminster

The International Development Committee hears from non-governmental organisations and from Department of International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the UK Government's response.

Purpose of the session
This session covers the scale of the crisis and how effectively DFID and other strands of Government have responded to protect civilians and ensure adherence to international humanitarian law.

Watch the video here

View a written transcript of the meetings here

MY COMMENT
This is a video of two one-hour meetings. If you have the time to watch it, it gives an invaluable insight into the UK's response to the Yemen Crisis.

In the first meeting at 1pm, the committee questions a panel of four expert witnesses on the Yemen crisis, as follows:

Julien Harneis, Head of UNICEF Yemen
Josephine Hutton, Regional Programme Manager, Middle East, Oxfam
Grant Pritchard, Director of Advocacy, Media and Communications on Yemen, Save the Children
Roy Isbister, Head of Arms Unit, Saferworld

I found this meeting encouraging in that it demonstrates that DfID (the Department for International Development) has a real desire to understand the facts about Yemen and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Yemeni people. However, it is also very clear from this meeting that the UK has a paradoxical policy towards Yemen. On the one hand, DfID is providing humanitarian assistance. On the other hand, the policy of the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) to support the Saudi-led coalition and to continue its licencing of arms sales to Saudi is undermining the efforts of DfID. The first meeting makes it very clear that the UK must stop its arms sales to Saudi.


In the second meeting at 2.00pm, the committee questions the following members of the UK government:

Rt Hon Desmond Swayne MP, Minister of State for International Development
Juliette John, Head of DFID Yemen, Department for International Development
Tobias Ellwood MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nicholas Alton, Deputy Head of Arabian Peninsula and Iran, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

This second meeting is very disappointing in that it demonstrates the government's clear and unwavering support for the Saudi-led coalition, as well as justification for its refusal to support the Dutch call for an independent enquiry into human rights violations in Yemen. The meeting closes with the chair saying, "On that rather unsatisfactory note, I think we have run out of time", which about says it all.