On the third anniversary of the conflict in Yemen, Save the Children campaigners from around the country came together to deliver a petition of over 61,000 people to Boris Johnson with a simple message: Yemen Can’t Wait.
We called on the Foreign Secretary to take four steps to protect children caught up in the conflict in Yemen.
- Press all parties to the conflict to guarantee unimpeded humanitarian access to Yemen.
- Ensure children and their families are protected by immediately suspending arms sales to any party in the conflict until we know those weapons will be used in accordance with international law.
- Hold perpetrators of violations of international law to account, by supporting independent international investigations of alleged violations by all sides.
- Continue financial support to the humanitarian relief effort and play a greater role in encouraging other donors to increase funding.
This week we’ve published the written response we’ve received from the Foreign Secretary to the petition.
In the letter the Foreign Secretary commits the UK to being at “the forefront of efforts to find a political solution to the conflict and respect humanitarian needs.” This is vital, and we need to continue to push to ensure that the Government does all it can to move all parties to the conflict away from a failed military strategy and towards a negotiated peace.
On independent investigations into violations being committed in Yemen, the Foreign Secretary has also promised to ‘work tirelessly at the highest levels’ to ensure that the Human Rights Council’s Resolution on human right in Yemen- which includes an independent investigation– ‘is fully implemented’, and that he, along with the Prime Minister, is committed to “using the Foreign Office’s resources and strength to address the crisis”.
On providing aid, the Government have committed £205 million in aid to Yemen, and in this letter also committed to leading in lobbying across the international community, and that ‘from the Prime Minister down’ the UK would drive this forward.
Whilst the Government still aren’t backing down on weapons sales, even here there are signs of hope, as the decision on the judicial review of arms sales referred to by the Government in this letter has already been overturned, and campaigners have won the right to take their case to the Court of Appeal.
Two years ago, the conflict in Yemen was a largely unknown crisis.
Today, the voices of the children of Yemen are being heard, and the campaign is, slowly but surely, moving forward.
Ultimately, only an end to Yemen’s war will stop the suffering of its children – a war that has created the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis, with 22.2 million people in need of help and nearly 9 million people on the brink of starvation. It’s more important than ever that we’re seeing the Government commit helping to secure a negotiated peace settlement.
We’re going to hold the Government to the promises made in this letter.
We haven’t got everything we asked for yet, and children are still being killed and injured in Yemen.
And until that stops, neither will we.