The Yemen is being destroyed by British weapons. Admittedly they are being wielded by the Saudi military but that doesn’t absolve us Brits of responsibility. Every Yemeni child killed by a British bullet or bomb is OUR responsibility. Arms sales to the Saudis should cease forthwith, and workers at our many weapons factories should be helped to find alternative employment. The Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair due for next September should be cancelled.
Here’s a summary of what’s happening on the ground in late February/ early March, 2017:
- Yemen is the Arabian peninsula’s poorest country.
- It may be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with twice as many ‘food insecure’ people (14 million) as Syria.
- A naval blockade led by Saudi Arabia, and under-reported in the western press, has led to far fewer ships docking at the country’s ports. This means less food, fuel shortages and shortages of medicines.
- Yemen ranks as a level 3 emergency, the highest on the UN humanitarian scale – nearly 70% of the population of 21 million facing food shortages.
- More than 6,700 people, most of them civilians, have been killed since the coalition first intervened.
- Since the start of the conflict 10,000 children under the age of five have died from preventable diseases due to the absence of basic medical supplies.
- 9.4 million have little or no access to water.
- The lack of fuel (imports are down 90%) means hospitals are shutting down without diesel, and water pumps no longer work, cutting off 3 million people from clean water supplies.
- Since May 2015 Saudi bombing attacks have killed civilians, hit hospitals, schools, food warehouses and supply lines, and millions of people now face starvation.
- The UK government has licensed more than £3 billion worth of arms to Saudi forces since the bombing of Yemen began. The UK government and the manufacturers BAE systems are pushing hard for further contracts.
- In October 2015, a funeral was ‘wrongly targeted’and over 140 people were killed.
- UK made cluster bombs have been dropped by the Saudis. They release many small bomblets over a wide area and unexploded bomblets can cause injury and death long after a conflict has ended.
What can we do?
- The UK pressure group CAAT (Campaign Against Arms Trade) would welcome public support for the following activities:-
- 19 April 2017: Lobby the British parliament ‘Put human rights before arms sales’. (CAAT.org.UK/saudi-lobby)
- Write to your MP ‘End arms sales to Saudi Arabia’ (Theyworkforus.com).
- Donate to CAAT to support their legal action against the government (CAAT.org.UK/donate).
- 22 & 23 July 2017, preparing for DSEI in September
- 4-11 September Stop DSEI being set up
- 9/9/17 Big day of action.
- 12-15/9 DSEI ARMS FAIR.
Peace News no’s 2602-2603 Feb – March 2017
CAAT News issue 243 Jan – March 2017