A SCOTTISH MP is pressing the Home Office to end its secrecy over the treatment of Yemeni asylum seekers as international concern about the humanitarian crisis in their home country grows.

More than 6,400 people are known to have died in fighting between factions in the Arab nation, with many killings said to be the result of Saudi Arabia-led air strikes using weapons and planes made in the UK, with British military training and advice.

According to estimates, more than half of the population have no access to healthcare, with facilities destroyed in attacks, and Oxfam says more than 21 million people are reliant on humanitarian aid.

Fuel shortages have crippled the water supply and food is scarce, while floods have claimed yet more lives.

Home Office guidance published this week concedes the north, west and centre of Yemen are so dangerous that sending refugees back could breach international law.

However, returns have not been ruled out and cases are still turned down – despite the fact no enforced returns have been made since December 2014 due to safety fears.

In a letter obtained by The National to Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood in December, Immigration Minister James Brokenshire states concerns over UK nationals as the reason, adding that the Government employed “specialist contractors used to operating in more hostile environments” on the last occasion but the numbers sent back, the firm used and the costs incurred are not known.

Figures obtained in January show just 14 Yemenis were granted asylum in the first half of 2015, with 31 refused and a growing backlog of “pending decisions” reaching 120 at the end of the second quarter.

The National has pressed the Home Office for information about the fate of those deemed unsuitable for asylum – given that no return flights to their country of origin have been made. However, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted in February was delayed by a further 20 days and has now been extended indefinitely.

Now Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss, who has repeatedly pushed the UK Government on Yemen, has tabled 10 questions to “shine a very bright light” on the issues. This includes an effort to learn if any rejected Yemeni asylum claimants have been removed from the UK, and to what country.

Thewliss said: “The UK Government appears to be evading very reasonable and simple questions about its involvement in Yemen, which should give all of us serious cause for concern.

“The Government might hope it can hide from reasonable Freedom of Information requests. However, I am very hopeful that these 10 parliamentary questions will draw out exactly what involvement the UK has in Yemen and why it appears so unwilling to give straight answers to simple questions.”

In an initial response to the FOI by The National, officials said the query could not be answered due to concerns regarding “law enforcement and commercial confidentiality”.

A letter received this week then stated: “I regret that we are unable to send you a full response to your request within the time frame required by the Act. This is because we need to ensure we address all you [sic] questions accurately. We are dealing with your request and we will send you a full reply as soon as we can.”

Britain – which has closed its Yemen embassy and refuses to enter the country due to “deteriorating security” – exported more than 1,000 bombs to Saudi Arabia in the first half of 2015 and has approved exports of more than £1.75 billion-worth of combat aircraft and bombs for the Royal Saudi Air Force.

Yesterday, Oxfam reiterated grave concerns over safety and humanitarian conditions in Yemen. It said the number of child deaths daily from preventable diseases has risen to 137, a school or health facility has been attacked every three days this year, and more than 325,700 people have been displaced by conflict in the last two months, raising the total to 2.75 million.

Sajjad Mohammad Sajid, Oxfam’s country director in Yemen, said: “The widespread destruction means Yemen’s houses, factories, schools and hospitals will require decades to rebuild; the destruction of Yemen’s social fabric and the trauma millions of innocent people are suffering will take even longer to heal. In the more than three decades that we’ve been working in Yemen, we have never witnessed a crisis of this scale.”

The Home Office has repeatedly stated that all asylum claims are considered on their own merits in accordance with guidance.

The National View: We must help the people fleeing a bloody chaos we helped to create