Leading poverty charity Oxfam has condemned the UK’s massive arms deals with Saudi Arabia, blasting the British government as “one of the most significant violators” of the international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
Last year, London approved the sale of more than £3 billion worth of weapons to the Riyadh regime, helping the Arab monarchy with its ruthless military aggression against Yemen which has killed about 10,000 people since it began in March 2015.
Oxfam says the war has put millions of people in the poverty-stricken country on the verge of a humanitarian crisis.
Penny Lawrence, deputy chief executive of Oxfam GB, is expected to censure Britain’s unconditional support for Saudi Arabia during a speech at the Second Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty in Geneva, on Tuesday.
“Schools, hospitals and homes have been bombed in contravention of the rules of war,” she will say, referring to numerous Saudi airstrikes that have intentionally targeted civilians and critical infrastructure.
Last week, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) decided to pull its staff out of the war-torn country following a number of deadly Saudi airstrikes on MSF-run hospitals across Yemen.
“The UK government is in denial and disarray over its arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition bombing campaign in Yemen,” Lawrence will continue. “It has misled its own parliament about its oversight of arms sales and its international credibility is in jeopardy as it commits to action on paper but does the opposite in reality.”
Britain is one of the key states backing Saudi Arabia’s war on its southern neighbor, which was launched as an attempt to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstate former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of its own.
Under the ATT, signatories are required to block any arms deal if they have knowledge at the time of the sale that the weapons will be used against civilians.
A UN report leaked to the Guardian in January found “widespread and systematic” targeting of civilians in the Saudi-led strikes. The report found 119 strikes that it said violated international humanitarian law.
This is while, according to Amnesty International, the UK government sold 2,400 missiles and 58 warplanes to Saudi Arabia in 2015. London is also accused of providing the Saudis with banned weapons such as cluster bombs.