Date: Wednesday, 11 January 2023
CAIRO (AP) - Weapons supplied by the United Kingdom and the United States and used by a Saudi-led coalition fighting in war-torn Yemen killed at least 87 civilians and wounded 136 others in just over a year, a new report said Wednesday.
The report by the Oxfam charity found that the Saudi-led coalition used weapons supplied solely by the U.K. and the U.S. in hundreds of attacks on civilians in Yemen between January 2021 to the end of February 2022. Britain is the second-biggest supplier of weapons to Saudi Arabia, after the U.S.
Yemen´s war began when the Iranian-backed Houthis seized the country´s capital in September 2014 and forced the internationally recognized government into exile. A Saudi-led coalition armed with U.S. weaponry and intelligence entered the war on the side of Yemen´s exiled government in March 2015.
Oxfam´s report comes ahead of a legal challenge by the Campaign Against Arms Trade, or CAAT, against the U.K. government on supplying weapons used in Yemen´s war. The charity says it provides witness in support of CAAT´s challenge.
Responding to an inquiry by The Associated Press, a spokesperson for U.K.´s Department for International Trade said they operate "one of the most robust and transparent export control regimes in the world."
"We consider all our export applications thoroughly against a strict risk assessment framework and keep all licenses under careful and continual review as standard," the spokesperson said.
The court battle is years old. The Court of Appeal in London ruled in 2019 that the U.K. government acted unlawfully in selling weapons to Saudi Arabia that were used in the Yemen war. The court however didn´t order a halt to the exports to the Gulf monarchy.
Oxfam´s report portrayed a grim picture.
Martin Butcher, Oxfam´s Policy Advisor on Arms and Conflict and author of the report, said they analyzed 700 attacks on civilians in Yemen´s war during the 14-month period, with the Saud-led coalition, using weapons supplied by the U.K. and the U.S., was responsible for a quarter of all attacks.
"It´s just so relentless," Butcher told The Associated Press in an interview. "People just find it so hard to escape the violence and the killing."
The report said airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition during the 14-month period killed at least 87 civilians and wounded 136 others. The charity counted at least 19 attacks by the coalition on health facilities and ambulances. It said 293 airstrikes forced people to flee their homes.
Overall, the conflict has killed than 150,000 people have been killed, including over 14,500 civilians, according to The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, and created one of the world´s worst humanitarian crises.
Butcher called the U.K. government to "immediately stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen," and promote a permanent cease-fire and negotiations for a long-term settlement through its position as a member of the U.N. Security Council.