UK arms sales fanning flames of Saudi-led war on Yemen: report
Hundreds of recent Saudi-led attacks on Yemeni civilians reportedly launched using the arms supplied by the US and UK, Oxfam figures illustrate.
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The UK has been helping to fuel a renewed "pattern of violence against civilians" in Yemen through its arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition, a new report has warned.
In the report, titled Fuelling Violence, Oxfam said they had counted more than 1,700 attacks on civilians in Yemen between January 2021 and the end of February 2022, a quarter of which were by the coalition solely using weapons supplied by the US and UK.
During the period referenced, Oxfam found that the coalition was responsible for 87 civilian deaths and 136 injuries, as well as 19 attacks on hospitals, clinics and ambulances and 293 attacks that forced people to flee their homes.
“The sheer number of attacks on civilians is stark testament to the terrible tragedy the people of Yemen have suffered," said Martin Butcher, Oxfam’s policy advisor on arms and conflict and author of the report, in a statement.
"Our analysis shows there is a pattern of violence against civilians, and all sides in this conflict have not done enough to protect civilian life, which they are obligated to do under International Humanitarian Law."
Riyadh and a coalition of regional allies, chiefly the United Arab Emirates, intervened in March 2015 to push the Yemeni resistance movement back.
The British Department for International Trade said that the UK took its "export control responsibilities seriously and operates one of the most robust and transparent export control regimes in the world."
“We consider all our export applications thoroughly through a strict risk assessment framework and keep all licenses under careful and continual review as standard," said a spokesperson for the department.
This is while the UK government has come in for repeated criticism over its decision to continue selling arms to Saudi Arabia, despite the concerns raised over human rights abuses.
The Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) is set to challenge the government's ability to sell arms to the kingdom in the High Court later this month.
A previous court challenge in 2019 forced the UK government to suspend arms sales, but after an internal, review sales resumed in 2021.
The country has licensed at least £7.9bn ($9.6bn) in arms to Saudi Arabia across 547 licenses since 2015.
However, according to CAAT, the true value of arms sales could be more than £23bn (around $28bn) when additional "open licensees" are taken into account.
“The intensity of these attacks would not have been possible without a ready supply of arms," said Butcher.
"That is why it’s vital the UK government and others must immediately stop the arms sales that are fueling war in Yemen.”