UK to spend £140m on aid to Yemen to help ‘most desperate people in the world’

Politics

The UK will spend £140m next year helping starving people in Yemen who are suffering one of the most ”acute humanitarian crises in the world”, the deputy foreign secretary has said.

Speaking exclusively to Sky News, Andrew Mitchell raised the plight of the Yemeni people, whom he said were living “on the margins of subsistence” following nearly a decade of civil war.

Mr Mitchell promised that the UK’s bilateral support for Yemen would increase by 60% and that any money provided would be designed “directly to help people who are in a very perilous humanitarian position”.

“It is Britain doing good, going to the rescue of the most desperate people in the world and helping them,” he said.

The deputy foreign secretary’s intervention comes following months of reporting from Yemen from Sky News’ special correspondent Alex Crawford, who has detailed how the war in Gaza has had an adverse impact on the Yemeni people.

Yemen’s Houthi militants, backed by Iran, have targeted ships in the Red Sea region which they claim are linked to Israel or helping its war effort.

The repeated missile and drone attacks by the Houthis since November have forced international cargo ships to be re-routed and take longer, more costly journeys around the Cape of Good Hope that has pushed up the price of goods in Yemen – already one of the poorest countries in the world.

More on Yemen

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The Houthi actions are wreaking havoc on global shipping routes but has seen them surge in popularity at home.

However, the Houthis’ actions, while condemned by the West, have prompted demonstrations of support in the streets of Yemen, where solidarity is expressed with Palestinians in Gaza.

Mr Mitchell said 70% of the food that gets into Yemen goes through ports used by international shipping and was therefore being put at risk by the Houthis’ actions.

“It is often impeded in getting there by what the Houthis are doing in disrupting the flow of international shipping,” he explained.

“So that is very bad – and, an example of the terrible effect of the Houthis are having on their own people as well as on the wider international community.”

Read more:
Babies are starving as Yemen teeters on brink of collapse
Alex Crawford: Inside Yemen – the forgotten war

Asked what the international community was doing to bring about peace in Yemen, Mr Mitchell replied: “Well, Britain holds the pen, in the jargon of the trade, at the United Nations. So we lead on Yemen.

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Sky’s special correspondent Alex Crawford and her team report from Yemen.

“And, recently we’ve been trying to make sure that the negotiations, which the UN special representative has been involved in, are successful.

“There’s a very different situation now from what there was a couple of years ago with the Saudis. And there is a peace process that is there for the taking.

“We urge all the different parties who are involved in Yemen to get involved in that peace process, to bring an end to a terrible situation, which, above all, millions of ordinary people in Yemen are suffering from.”

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