Government slammed for ‘complicity and cowardice’ in Yemen

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry has slammed the Government for their silence in response to the Saudi assault on the port of Hodeidah in Yemen.

Hodeidah is Yemen’s principal port, and is also the entry point for the majority of the food and aid sorely needed by Yemen’s starving population. It is also home to almost half a million inhabitants. But despite repeated warnings by United Nations, the Saudi-led coalition has pushed on with the invasion of their southern neighbour.

The United Nations has estimated that as many as a quarter of a million people could die in the alleged assault. The scale of casualties is hard to calculate, partly because independent observers have found it so difficult to access the country. But there is no doubt it is one of the world’s largest humanitarian disasters, with 130 children dying of malnourishment every day.

The British Government, which is a non-military member of the coalition, has repeatedly backed the Saudis while giving warm words to ‘restraint’. A recent memorandum penned by Britain on the UN security council was so nakedly pro-Saudi, that the rest of the council forced it to be dropped. UK arms sales to the totalitarian monarchy hit £1.1 billion in 2017, which goes some way to explain the government’s support for the regime.

Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, responding to the Saudi-led coalition’s assault on the port of Hodeidah, said:

“For weeks, the world has warned that any assault on the port of Hodeidah would directly threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians living in the city, would cut off the lifeline of food and medicine for millions of other Yemeni civilians, and would risk plunging a country already facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis into a full-blown humanitarian disaster.

“Instead of attacking Hodeidah, the United Nations has pleaded with the Saudi-led coalition to establish a ceasefire and return to meaningful peace talks, and the UN’s Yemen envoy said an attack on Hodeidah would wipe the prospects of peace off the table. But despite all those warnings and pleas, and with callous disregard for the humanitarian consequences, the Saudi-led coalition has launched this brutal assault.

“The world should stand united in condemning that action, and the UK government in particular must ask itself how it can – with any conscience – carry on supporting, advising and arming the coalition that is carrying out this assault, and threatening the lives of so many millions of ordinary men, women and children.

“For three years, the UK government has made constant excuses for the Saudi-led coalition, explaining that the bombing of weddings, funerals and food markets have all just been unfortunate mistakes. But the assault on Hodeidah cannot be dismissed as a mistake; it is a calculated act of brutality against Yemen’s civilian population, and if the UK government will not both condemn it and act through the United Nations to stop it, it will not just stand accused of cowardice but complicity.”

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