Stop Arming Saudi: Yemen

Destroyed buildings with people in foreground, air strike in Sana'a, May 2015, with text £2.8 billion UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia since it started bombing Yemen

  • UK-made weapons are being used in Saudi Arabia’s devastating bombing in Yemen, including Paveway Precision Guided Missiles and Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.
  • UK government has granted, and is continuing to grant export licences for weapons to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen. It licensed an astounding £2.8 billion of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia in the six months after the bombing started.
  • The UK government has continued to grant these licences despite overwhelming evidence of repeated breaches of international humanitarian law.
  • This is in clear violation of UK’s own guidelines on arms sales, and European and international law, and makes a mockery of the government’s claims to ‘rigorously’ control arms exports.
CAAT has begun formal legal action in the High Court to challenge the government’s decision to export arms to Saudi Arabia

A humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen

The scale of human suffering is almost incomprehensible.

Stephen O’Brien, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator
  • Civilians are bearing the brunt of the conflict in Yemen. More than 2,000 children have been killed or injured in the fighting (UN, March 2016). In February 2016 “at least 168 civilians were killed and 193 injured, around two-thirds of them by Coalition airstrikes” (UN, March 2016)
  • 80% of the population now require humanitarian assistance.
  • 2.4 million people have been forcibly displaced by the fighting: “staggeringly high and a cause for grave alarm” (UNHCR, March 2016)
  • 14 million people are facing food insecurity and 1.4 million children are acutely malnourished.

Overwhelming evidence of repeated breaches of international humanitarian law

The UK government has continued to grant export licences to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen despite overwhelming evidence of repeated breaches of international humanitarian law.

A recent UN report has detailed more than 100 possible breaches of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition, with the targets including “camps for internally displaced persons and refugees; civilian gatherings, including weddings; civilian vehicles, including buses; civilian residential areas; medical facilities; schools; mosques; markets, factories and food storage warehouses; and other essential civilian infrastructure.”

19 August 2015: Stephen O’Brien, the Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator of the UN Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), reported to the UN Security Council, that the ‘scale of human suffering [in Yemen] is almost incomprehensible.’ Condemning ‘attacks on residential areas and civilian infrastructure’, he asserted: ‘these attacks are in clear contravention of international humanitarian law.’

27 October 2015: Commenting on the destruction of a hospital facility, the Country Director of Médecins Sans Frontières remarked ‘the fact of the matter is it’s a war crime. There’s no reason to target a hospital. We provided [the Coalition] with all of our GPS coordinates about two weeks ago.’

Mounting pressure for government to act

10 March 2016: Parliament’s Committees on Arms Export Controls launch an enquiry into UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

25 February 2016: The European Parliament voted by 359 votes to 212, for an immediate arms embargo to Saudi Arabia, despite Saudi lobbying.

2 February 2016: Parliament’s International Development Committee calls on the government to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

17 December 2015: Analysis by leading lawyers, commissioned by Amnesty International UK and Saferworld, concludes the UK Government is breaking the law by supplying arms to Saudi Arabia.

A recent study by Opinium LLP for CAAT found that 62% of UK adults oppose arms sales to Saudi Arabia, with only 16% supporting them.

Page updated 10 March 2016

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