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Decision on arms sales to Saudi Arabia is 'indefensible'

London | 7 July 2020 | Save the Children

"Our Government say they want to be a ‘global force for good’. But today they decided that killing and injuring thousands of children in Yemen does not constitute a ‘pattern of harm’."

In response to today's announcement that the UK Government will resume licensing arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Save the Children's Head of Children and Armed Conflict, Denisa Delic, said:

“This decision is indefensible. Our Government say they want to be a ‘global force for good’. But today they decided that killing and injuring thousands of children in Yemen does not constitute a ‘pattern of harm’. The world’s most vulnerable children need action not words. They need protection, not more bombs.

“Just this year airstrikes have damaged houses, farms, quarantine centres and schools nearly 100 times, as the country battles rampant malnutrition and a surging coronavirus outbreak.

“Only yesterday the Government announced new sanctions against human rights abusers. The Foreign Secretary said this sent a “clear message”. Unfortunately today’s actions seem to send an even clearer one; that the UK Government has no problem with British weapons killing and maiming innocent children.

“The decision must be reversed and arms sales to the Saudi and Emirati-led Coalition must stop. But we also want them to publish their analysis which concludes that the continued and UN-documented pattern of bombing of homes, schools, market places and hospitals are all ‘isolated incidents’.” 

“The Government has called for peace but continuing to sell weapons that will fuel this devastating conflict sends the opposite signal. Suspending arms sales is a vital step towards reaching a political solution and ending the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

Notes:

 According to the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project:

  • From 1 Jan 2020 until 31 May there were 95 incidents where airstrikes in Yemen caused a civilian impact incident – damaging houses, farms, quarantine sites and two schools – one on 12 May in Hajjah and one on 8 March in Marib.
  • Since 1 Jan 2020 28 children have been killed and 20 more injured by airstrikes – including 26 children killed and 18 injured in a single incident on 15 February when airstrikes hit a civilian gathering at a fighter jet crash site in Al Hayjah area in Al Maslub district.

According to UN figures the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition were responsible for killing and injuring at least 3,481 children from 2015 to 2019.

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