You are here: Yemen fourth anniversary: A week of action

26 March 2019

On Monday 18 March the UN APPG, for which UNA-UK provides the secretariat, co-hosted a joint parliamentary event called “Paying the price: Women and girls in Yemen’s war,” in collaboration with the APPGs on Women, Peace and Security and on Yemen, the International Rescue Committee Europe and GAPS: Gender Action for Peace and Security.

Chaired by Baroness Hodgson, the meeting brought together Yemeni activists, parliamentarians and NGOs, to discuss the toll of Yemen’s war on women and girls. Across the board speakers highlighted the vital role women must play in facilitating peace and building Yemen’s future.  

Speakers, including Alistair Burt MP, then Minister of State for the Middle East, and Lord Hannay, chair of the UN All-Party Parliamentary Group, agreed that supporting the UN mission and ensuring the accordance of the ceasefire in Hodeidah were vital. 

Mr Burt outlined Britain’s commitment to supporting UN Women and Yemeni women leaders by funding a special gender adviser to the UN. He added that Britain would continue to support the UN's work in Yemen through its position as penholder at the United Nations Security Council. 

Founder of the Hodeida Girls’ Foundation, Dalia Qassim gave first-hand testimony of the pain of war and stated “Yemeni women continue playing a critical role in alleviating this pain.” 

Marwa Baabbad, Yemeni activist and researcher, made it clear more needed to be done to encourage and facilitate women’s involvement across lines of humanitarian response and peacebuilding. 

“I’m sure we can do better to help women peacebuilders in Yemen...they must be in the room. We don’t invite women to the table from a security perspective – we need to take that forward and empower them more.” 

Ms Baabbad further noted that Yemen’s future depends on long-term multilateral co-operation on peacebuilding efforts. 

Lord Hannay agreed, stating that “humanitarian relief is not enough but must go hand in hand with a very serious input on peace process" and urged the UK Government to be more active in its lead role at the UN Security Council.

In highlighting the main findings of the recent International Relations Committee report "Yemen: giving peace a chance" Lord Hannay noted, “Although the Government says they remain convinced that weapons that Britain sells to Saudi Arabia and to the Emirates are not being used in breach of international and humanitarian law, we did not share that view.” 

In his closing remarks, Keith Vaz MP, chair of the APPG on Yemen, pointed out that those who pledge billions to rebuild Yemen, are also the ones bombing it.

He concluded by stating:

"We have to help bring peace because the Yemeni people can’t do it alone."

A day of action

On Wednesday 20 March parliamentarians had an opportunity to meet Yemeni activists as well as their constituents in a “day of action for Yemen,” organised by Oxfam and supported by UNA-UK and other NGO partners. 

The day hosted a wide range of campaigners from a number of UK schools, as well as parliamentarians including Clive Lewis MP, Alisson Thewlis MP, Afzal Khan MP, and Douglas Chapman MP. 

Dalia Qassim addressed participants, and called upon the UK Government:

“I came from a nation that appeals to you, please don’t let us down. A nation that petitions to you to help us stop the war and for you to contribute to the reduction of the sale of arms."  

Baroness Sheehan, Liberal Democrats' House of Lords spokesperson on International Development, went on to powerfully denounce the Government's decision to continue its sale of arms to the Kingdom: 

The fact is we know our sale of arms to Saudi Arabia are killing innocent civilians...it is blatantly wrong. We should stop doing it and so should our Western partners. 

We don’t allow guns on our streets, so why should the people of Yemen suffer the consequences of the illegal use of guns on their streets?” 

Matthew Spencer, Director of Campaigns at Oxfam, closed the event by adding, “You don’t have to have been to Yemen to care about Yemen, it is our common humanity that unites us in this cause.” 

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