Foreign AffairsSpeeches

Leo Docherty – 2023 Speech at the Pledging Conference on the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen

The speech made by Leo Docherty, the Minister for Europe, on 27 February 2023.

Friends and colleagues,

As we have heard, the humanitarian situation in Yemen is dire.

Millions of people continue to suffer the consequences of years of conflict,

And this suffering is made worse by the deteriorating economy, and damaged public services.

I would like to thank the UN, Switzerland, and Sweden for hosting this conference, and all of those generously pledging today.

Your contributions will save lives and alleviate suffering, and the United Kingdom will continue to play its part. This includes resolving the immediate threats posed by the Safer oil tanker. We have a chance to get Safer done if donors and the UN are bold and brave in the next few months.

We have provided more than one billion pounds in aid to Yemen since the start of the conflict.

Over the next financial year, the UK hopes to match last year’s budget and will pledge up to 88 million pounds.

This will feed at least 100,000 Yemeni people every month,

provide lifesaving health care and nutrition services through 400 health care facilities,

and treat 22,000 severely malnourished children this year.

In addition to funding, we must also ensure that aid is delivered as effectively as possible.

The recommendations from the 2022 Inter-Agency Humanitarian Evaluation must be implemented to improve the quality of the response.

But humanitarian teams working on the ground are facing increasing challenges right now.

Bureaucratic restrictions are hampering aid delivery,

And mahram, requiring women to be accompanied by a male guardian, is preventing female aid workers from working. Without them, the response cannot meet the needs of women and girls.

It is vital that the authorities authorise independent assessments and monitoring to ensure aid goes where it is needed most.

We must also listen to the voices and views of ordinary people in Yemen.

This will enable the international response to be accountable to the people we are trying to help.

A return to full-scale conflict has been avoided in Yemen, which is indeed good news.

Now, is the time to build a better future for the Yemeni people.

Parties to the conflict must seize this opportunity for peace, which is the only way to end this humanitarian crisis for good.