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Stephen Twigg MP

Stephen Twigg visits the Peace Centre

February 3, 2017 | Nick Taylor

Member of Parliament for Liverpool West Derby, Stephen Twigg MP, visited the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace to learn about the work of the Foundation and meet with one of the charity’s beneficiaries, originally from the Yemen, who was able to provide insight into the ongoing conflict in that country.

Stephen met with charity Chief Executive Nick Taylor (pictured) and Terry O’Hara who leads the work of the Survivors Assistance Network.

Stephen has held a number of Government positions including Education Minister and later, whilst in opposition, Shadow Secretary of State for Education.

He worked for the Foreign Policy Centre, the Holocaust Centre and the Aegis Trust (Preventing Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity).

Since June 2015, Stephen has served as the Chair of the International Development Select Committee and is a member of the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy.

During his visit, Stephen toured the Peace Centre and learned about the work of the Foundation and discussed a wide range of topics relating to global conflict.

In January, Stephen opened a House of Commons backbench business debate on the Yemen Crisis and highlighted the ongoing humanitarian crisis and the impact of the conflict on civilians. He asked that the House condemned any breach of the international humanitarian law; and called for an urgent independent investigation into reports of breaches of international humanitarian law on both sides of the conflict. Stephen has become very aware of the crisis as Chair of the International Development Committee.

The Yemen conflict began early in 2015, less than two years ago, but it has its roots in the Arab spring of 2011. When Ali Abdullah Saleh was succeeded by President Hadi, the Houthi movement took advantage of the new President’s weakness, took control of parts of northern Yemen and later took the capital, Sana’a. From there the conflict intensified, with the intervention in 2015 of the Saudi Arabian-led coalition, backed by United States, United Kingdom, and French intelligence, and on the other side the Houthi rebels, backed by Iran.

Stephen said: “Yemen has been called the forgotten crisis—for example, by Amnesty International—but it is a crisis that we surely cannot ignore. The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross has said that the intensity and severity of the fighting in Yemen left the country looking as Syria did after five years of conflict.

“It is estimated that since the conflict began nearly 10,000 people have been killed, roughly 4,000 civilians have lost their lives and 37,000 have been injured, which amounts to an average of 75 deaths or injuries on each day of the conflict. Surely, we cannot allow that to continue.”

The Foundation’s Survivors Assistance Network supports survivors and victims of terrorism, political violence, and war and introduced Stephen to one of our beneficiaries who had to leave Yemen.

She briefed Stephen on her experience and will work further with him.

She said: “I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak with him as I want my voice to be heard.

“I am very worried about Yemen, it breaks my heart as the war continues and political solutions are not being agreed so far by the warring sides.

“In the past few months peace talks failed many times and this is horrifying that the situation is still too complicated so violence in the country will continue.

“It is scary that peace is not happening. I wish something can be done to lessen the humanitarian crisis, and maybe highlighting Yemen war in the Parliament meetings will draw the attention of the UK government and probably boost any possible effort to end the suffering of the civilians in Yemen.”

For more information about the work of the Survivors Assistance Network contact SAN@foundation4peace.org