Don’t Cut UK Aid to Yemen!

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We have written on  behalf of LASER to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, urging them to give more support to the Yemen. These letters mnay be dealt with by officials, so it is important we all also write to our MPs, as they have better access to Ministers.

Here is a template letter for MPs drafted by our Yemen specialist, Paul Tippell. He has also drafted wider guidance for lobbying MPs.

Dear [Insert MP full name and title],  [If you’re unsure how to address your MP, you can find their title and how to address them on the official Parliament website

[Make reference to a previous communication or some personal or friendly comment e.g. applauding your MP on some local or national action (if appropriate)]

[Explain why this issue matters to you, please edit your letter by adding one or more of the following points in your own words.]

I am writing to you out of extreme concern for the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen where nearly 400,000 children under five are suffering from severe acute malnutrition and are likely to starve to death unless they receive urgent medical attention [1]

Sir Mark Lowcock, Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told the Security Council “About 400,000 children under the age of five are severely malnourished across the country. These are the children with distended bellies, emaciated limbs and blank stares — starving to death,” adding that, “across Yemen, more than 16 million people are going hungry, including 5 million who are just one step away from famine.”[2]

The UN hoped to raise $3.85bn (£2.76bn) from more than 100 governments and donors at a virtual pledging conference on Monday to avert widespread famine in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis but received $1.7bn – less than half.

“Millions of Yemeni children, women and men desperately need aid to live. Cutting aid is a death sentence,” UN Secretary General, António Guterres said in a statement.[3]

Britain pledged £87m at Monday’s event – 54% of last year’s donation of £160m, and only 40% of the total funding the UK provided in 2020.

As a result of funding cuts, 75% of UN funded programs, from food to health care and nutrition, have shut their doors or reduced operations. The World Food Program has cut rations in half and Save the Children has been forced to cut services for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition to just 20% of its normal levels as funding dries up.  The number of people the UN agencies are able to feed has dropped from 13 million to eight million.

“It’s an impossible situation,” said Lise Grande, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen “This is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, yet we don’t have the resources we need to save the people who are suffering and will die if we don’t help. The consequences of under-funding are immediate, enormous and devastating. Nearly every humanitarian worker has had to tell a hungry family or someone who is ill that we can’t help them because we don’t have funding.”[4]

As my MP I urge you to speak with both the Middle East Minister and the Foreign Secretary and ask them to:

  • Reconsider their funding decision and restore funding to at least 2020 levels.
  • Intensively lobby the Saudis, Kuwait and the UAE to increase humanitarian funding to the UN to 2019 levels.
  • Help broker a ceasefire by vigorously engaging with all parties.
  • Make contact with Houthis to seek a path to peace that meets reasonable demands, such as the opening of Sana’a International Airport (with inspections for arms imports) and moving UN inspections to Hodeidah port.
  • Demand that the Houthis stop laying land mines, their missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and their military advance towards Marib which is putting in danger the lives of up to two million internally displaced people.
  • Demand that the Saudi stop bombing populated areas.

Yours etc.

[1] https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/12/1079832

[2] https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/03/1086042

[3] https://www.reuters.com/article/yemen-security-un-int/u-n-says-disappointing-1-7-billion-pledged-for-yemen-impossible-to-avert-famine-idUSKBN2AT2RS

[4] https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/yemen-humanitarian-update-issue-9-september-2020-enar

March, 2021

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