MPs debate the humanitarian crisis in Yemen

MPs debate the humanitarian crisis in Yemen - 24 September 2020

In a backbench business debate on 24 September, MPs debated the humanitarian situation, the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. 

Tim Loughton, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Yemen introduced the debate.  He summed up the dire situation: "I am not surprised that there is so much interest in Yemen today, because it has become the victim of the most lethal and complex cocktail: an extended and ostensibly insoluble civil war with international ramifications; various other man-made disasters; numerous natural disasters and potentially catastrophic environmental ones; an economic meltdown; and now, on top of it all, a deadly pandemic that Yemen was least prepared and equipped to deal with."

Tim Loughton also raised the issue of the potential enivronmental catastrophe in the Red Sea, "from the FSO Safer, a 45-year-old oil tanker loaded with more than 1 million barrels of crude oil, anchored 60 km off the rebel-held port of Hodeidah and left to decay for the last five years, with no agreement over access for engineers."

In response to this the Foreign Officer Minister, James Cleverly said: "The hon. Gentleman also mentioned the Safer oil tanker, which is of huge concern to us. It is estimated that a spill from the Safer oil tanker would be four times larger than the spill caused by the Exxon Valdez, and the environmental impact in the Red sea would be incalculable. He asked what we had done about the situation. We have called for a stand-alone session of the United Nations Security Council, and I regularly raise Safer in my engagement with parties in the region. I discussed it with the Yemeni Foreign Minister on 24 August, the Saudi ambassador on 5 August and the Saudi deputy Foreign Minister on 20 June. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised it at the high-level ​ministerial meeting on Yemen that he co-hosted on 17 September, and I have commissioned work to look into what the UK could do to secure it. The situation is terrible, and we are working hard to prevent the environmental catastrophe that would flow from it."

You watch the debate here and can read the rest of the debate here.