UK 'still complicit' in destruction of Yemen say campaigners

By agency reporter
March 28, 2016

In the year since the Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen began, thousands of Yemeni civilians have died and millions have been left without access to vital infrastructure, clean water or electricity.

Last month, the European Parliament voted to support an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia. This followed months of evidence from a range of respected organisations, including a UN panel, that Saudi forces have broken international humanitarian law.

The UK government has licensed £6.7 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia since David Cameron took office in 2010, including over £2.8 billion worth since the bombing of Yemen began.

A ceasefire has been called to start on April 10. Saudi Arabia claims to be downscaling the bombing, but a recent air strike on a busy market place killed over 100 people.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: "We hope the ceasefire succeeds, but the last year has seen a humanitarian catastrophe unleashed on the people of Yemen. The response of the UK government has been to keep arming and supporting Saudi Arabia. Thousands have died yet the message being sent out is that their lives are less important than arms company profits."

Last month Campaign Against Arms Trade and their lawyers at Leigh Day submitted a claim for a Judicial Review into the arms sales. The organisation is calling on the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to suspend all extant licences and stop issuing further licences for arms exports to Saudi Arabia while it holds a full review into whether the exports are compatible with UK and EU legislation.

"Despite overwhelming evidence that Saudi forces have broken international humanitarian law, the government has continued pushing arms sales, making a mockery of its own legislation. If arms export controls are worth the paper they are printed on, then the government must finally stop arming Saudi Arabia", said Andrew Smith.

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

*CAAT https://www.caat.org.uk/

[Ekk/4]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.