Save the Children statement on UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia

By agency reporter
October 24, 2018

Following the German government’s decision to review arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Save the Children is urging the British government to follow suit.

Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children, said: “Pressure has been mounting on the UK Government in recent weeks to take a stronger stance on our close relationship with Saudi Arabia. Arms sales is one area Britain can and should review. Saudi Arabia is an ally. However, the weight of evidence of violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen is now so great that it is very difficult to continue to support the Kingdom while maintaining the credibility of our arms licensing regime. After the events of recent weeks, our leaders must stand up to our ally and redouble efforts to protect the children caught up in Yemen’s brutal war.  As a global leader in defending universal human rights, the UK must now take a stand on behalf of Yemen’s children and suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

“All sides are killing children in Yemen, but Britain is only selling weapons to one of them. Over the past three years we have witnessed all parties to the conflict in Yemen act with near impunity, but the actions of the Saudi and Emirati-led Coalition, with its overwhelming use of airstrikes and an economic blockade have pushed Yemen to the brink of the worst famine in 100 years. Repeated attacks on civilians, including schools, markets, hospitals and homes, including a horrific attack on a bus full of school children in August, may amount to war crimes. The UN has reported that Saudi and UAE-led airstrikes are responsible for the greatest number of verified civilian deaths. 

“With little evidence to suggest steps have been taken to minimise civilian casualties, the conduct of our Saudi allies in Yemen over the past three years hasn’t instilled confidence that enough is being done to protect civilians, particularly children, from harm. It’s time for the UK Government to join its allies and suspend selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and other members of the coalition until the coalition conducts genuine prosecutions of alleged war crimes by its forces and holds perpetrators to account.”

* Save the Children https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/

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