Saudi Arabia must engage in peace talks to help end conflicts in Yemen

The Motion for a resolution on the Humanitarian Situation in Yemen was adopted in the European Parliament Plenary Session on 25 February 2016.

Ever since my election, I have taken a keen interest in issues of human rights and conflict resolution, and I have been in touch with Campaign Against Arms Trade representatives ahead of this vote, to hear their views on the subject. I have also been in touch with an Ethiopian journalist who has been a refugee in Yemen and caught in the conflict, and have heard of the suffering there directly from him.

You should be aware that this resolution was put down at the initiative of the European Socialist and Democrats Group, in which Labour MEPs are members, and was personally negotiated, by one of my Labour MEP colleagues. Therefore, you can see that there is no question that we condone the violation of human rights that the people, women, children and men are facing in Yemen.

Labour MEPs supported the resolution and there was no question of the language being watered down - there was a straight 'for' and 'against' vote on the specific amendment on the arms embargo.

Please note that the draft resolution recognised abuses on all sides in Yemen and seeks to uphold the EU Code of Conduct on arms exports, which already prohibits the export of arms where these may be used in contravention of international humanitarian law.

You, the public, have expressed strong human rights concerns about the Saudis which we share, for example the case of Raif Badawi whom we nominated for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2015. Notwithstanding our ongoing work in the field of human rights, it is important that Saudi Arabia engages in peace talks to help end conflicts in Yemen, Syria and to uphold the Arab Peace Plan with respect to the Palestinians.

This resolution is about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and was motivated by seeking to end the suffering of the people there.

On this I know we have your support and - after last week's vote - I hope the people of Yemen will know they have that support from the whole of Europe.

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