A senior MP who was born in Yemen has demanded United Nations’ action to halt the bloodshed in the Middle East country.
Labour MP Keith Vaz, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Yemen, called for world leaders meeting in New York to focus on the latest violence which has seen security forces attack protesters in the capital Sanaa.
Campaigners want political reform, following popular revolts which have swept Arab nations including Libya, Egypt and Tunisia.
Mr Vaz, who also chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, said on Tuesday: “It is clear the Yemeni people need assistance from the international community.
“More than 50 protesters, many unarmed and some of them children, have been shot dead by government fire since Sunday, and hospitals are unable to cope with the hundreds injured.
“The presence in Yemen of al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula means that continuing instability and violence could have serious global consequences.
“As the UN meets today (Tuesday) for its high-level summit on non-communicable diseases, it is imperative that the Security Council convenes to discuss this urgent crisis. We must act now to save innocent lives.”
His call came after Foreign Secretary William Hague on Monday condemned the killing of dozens of anti-government protesters as security forces blasted them with anti-aircraft guns and automatic weapons.
Mr Hague said: “The UK calls on all sides to disengage forces immediately and avoid escalation. We strongly support continuing negotiations for a peaceful settlement to the crisis. It is vital that all sides show the necessary determination to bring these negotiations to a rapid, successful conclusion.”
But Mr Hague admitted the UK Government’s powers to press for political reform in the country were “relatively limited”.