#DontBombChildren: London charity unveils haunting statue of Yemeni child for MbS visit

#DontBombChildren: London charity unveils haunting statue of Yemeni child for MbS visit
Save the Children unveiled a life-size statue of a Yemeni child across the British capital on Wednesday, to mark the controversial Saudi state visit to the UK.
3 min read
07 March, 2018
The statue appeared in several iconic situations across London [Twitter]

A life-size statue of a Yemeni child was unveiled outside the UK’s Parliament on Wednesday, as the Saudi Crown Prince landed in London for his official visit.

The bronze-like statue was delivered by Save the Children which said it is “a reminder of the dangers that Yemeni children face every day and the risks of British-made bombs fuelling the violence.”

As part of the campaign, the statue appeared in several iconic locations across London, including Tower Bridge, Camden Market and Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital, to reflect the types of places where children are regularly bombed in Yemen, such as playgrounds, hospitals, schools and markets, the charity said.

Saudi Arabia waged a deadly war on Yemen in March 2015 which has since killed more than 10,000 people and left millions in a dire situation on the ground and prompting the UN to describe Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

In the three years since, the British government has approved  £6 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and has not backed down despite being legally challenged.

“We are extremely clear what we're asking for. We want Saudi Arabia to obey the rules of war, to stop killing civilians in Yemen, and to abandon a failed military strategy in favour of working towards a political solution,” James Denselow, Head of Conflict & Humanitarian Policy, Save the Children, said.

“Britain is providing welcome and life-saving aid to Yemen – but it also provides diplomatic cover. It is time for the Government to use this diplomatic relationship to push for an end to the conflict - and to demand our allies stop bombing children,” he added.

 “All sides in this conflict - including the Saudi-led Coalition, the Houthis, the Yemen Government, and everyone involved in the fighting, must come to the table and start to work for a negotiated peace, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”

The campaign comes as Britain prepared to roll out the red carpet for the crown prince's controversial visit, which Downing Street hopes "will usher in a new era in bilateral relations".

But Saudi opposition groups in Britain vowed to protest against the state visit.

The UK-based rights group ALQST for Human Rights and two Islamic parties founded by political exiles have said they will take part on Wednesday in demonstrations in London - a main base for the Saudi opposition abroad.

"The huge posters and public relations campaign in Britain for the Crown Prince show that he is afraid of public opinion here," ALQST head Yahya Assiri told The New Arab.

"The public relations campaign has promoted him as a bringer of change despite unfair trials and hundreds of political opponents being jailed on false charges," he added.

Promotional posters of Prince Mohammed have popped up across London ahead of the much-hyped visit.

Saudi political exile Omar al-Shahrani predicted that the charm offensive will be "counterproductive".

Bin Salman will lunch on Wednesday with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, while Prince Charles will host him at a dinner with Prince William among the guests.

The crown prince will jointly host with May the inaugural UK-Saudi strategic partnership council in No. 10, the prime minister's office and residence.

However, May will "raise deep concerns at the humanitarian situation" in war-torn Yemen with bin Salman, according to her spokesman.

"(May) will acknowledge the steps taken recently by Saudi Arabia to address the crisis but stress the importance of full and unfettered humanitarian and commercial access, including through the ports," he said on Tuesday.