Thornberry condemns British Government and UN Security Council over Yemen

Emily Thornberry has today called for an immediate ceasefire in Yemen, a new UN Security Council resolution to solve the crisis, and a full investigation into alleged war crimes during the three year conflict.

In a speech to the International Parliamentary Conference for Peace in Yemen at The National Assembly in Paris Thornberry said parliamentarians should united to "condemn" the government and UN Security council “for not taking action immediately[…] to bring this war to an end”.

She also warned the Yemen conflict risked being overshadowed by the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, allegedly by figures close to the de facto Saudi ruler, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

In her speech she told the conference: "The eyes of the world would not be so much on this conference, and the pledge that will be agreed today, if it were not for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and the spotlight that murder has shone on the current government of Saudi Arabia and its total disregard for human rights, the rule of law, and the sanctity of human life."

"And this is something that many have been willing to comment on and express outrage about in the last few weeks, but which so many of us in this room have been warning was happening not just once or twice, not just a hundred times over, or a thousand, but millions of times over, during the blockade and assault on Yemen."

"When it comes to parliamentarians and NGOs like us, the children of Yemen have a right to demand more than sorrow and sympathy and tears. They are calling out for action. And we must listen to those voices. We must demand action. And we must all stand up and condemn governments like Britain’s, governments all around the world, and the UN Security Council as a group, for not listening to the Expert Panel, for not taking action immediately, for not doing everything they can – for not even trying! – to bring this war to an end, and get relief to the children who need it." she added.

Thornberry joins the chorus of British politicians who are calling for the British Government to take a more forceful stance in bringing Saudi Arabia and its allies to the negotiating table, in light of a renewed coalition assault on the strategic port city of Hodeida, previously Yemen's main conduit for food imports. According to the UN, 70 percent of all food, fuel, medicine and other essential supplies imported into the northern half of Yemen come through Hodeida.

The city has come under siege from pro-UAE and Saudi militias, while the Houthi movement and supporters have dug in to resist the assault, laying thousands of landmines around the city's perimeter.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary also called upon the international community to recognise the need for a non-military solution to the conflict, adding: "when we say there is no military solution to this crisis, let’s be clear what we mean. Because I sometimes say that to people:“There is no military solution”, and they say “well actually, look at the Saudi advances”. But what we really mean is there is no possible military solution without unthinkable human costs for Yemen’s civilians, the innocent people who ask no more than to be allowed to live their lives."

"So, we desperately need an alternative. We desperately need a political solution. And that is why the pledge we will make today is so important. And this is no counsel of despair. This is no retreat into pessimism. If anything, it is the exact opposite. Because the pledge we can agree on today and carry back to all our parliaments and governments is a blueprint for effective action to stop the humanitarian crisis, to achieve a lasting ceasefire, and to enable a long-term political solution: six clear, pragmatic, achievable steps."

A week ago, the United States called for a ceasefire to take effect within the next 30 days, although there is presently no evidence of this having any impact on the ground.

Although casualty figures from the Yemen conflict are notoriously unreliable, it is believed over 80,000 people have lost their lives during the fighting, while hundreds of thousands are at risk of severe famine and malnutrition.

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