'Irresponsible': Saudi-led coalition airstrikes destroy UK aid in Yemen

'Irresponsible': Saudi-led coalition airstrikes destroy UK aid in Yemen

Oxfam-funded aid projects in Yemen were destroyed by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, the British charity revealed, as international pressure to end the deadly conflict continued to increase.
3 min read
03 November, 2018
Saudi-led coalition airstrikes have targeted aid centres, funerals, weddings, markets and schools [Getty]

The Saudi-led coalition struck aid projects funded by Oxfam in Yemen, reports revealed, as international pressure to end the deadly conflict continued to mount.

The airstrikes hit an essential cholera treatment centre in Abs in the Hajjah province in June, the Independent reported, despite the location being reported to the military alliance more than 12 times.

Just two months earlier, an Oxfam-supported water supply was severely damaged by coalition strikes, preventing more than 6,000 people from much-needed water.

The reports emerged after Dina el-Mamoun, from the British charity Oxfam, told the International Development Committee this week that UK aid had been bombed.

In response, Oxfam’s head of advocacy, Toni Pearce described British policy toward the Yemen as “irresponsible and incoherent.

“On the one hand, British aid is a vital lifeline, on the other, British bombs are helping to fuel an ongoing war that is leading to countless lives being lost each week to fighting, disease and hunger, she said. 

“The UK continues to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, whose coalition bombing campaign in Yemen has cut off vital food supplies, destroyed hospitals and homes, and hit aid programmes funded by British taxpayers.”

More than 10,000 people have been killed since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to push back Houthi rebels.

Pressure has been mounting on the UK and US in recent weeks to take a stronger stance on their close relationships with Saudi Arabia, with the two powers continuing to sell weapons to the regime used to bomb Yemen.

On Tuesday it was reported that the real death toll in Yemen was likely five times higher than the official count given.

Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) said that at least 56,000 people have died in the Yemen war, a figure much higher than the 10,000 figure given by most news agencies.

Yemen has also been plunged into a humanitarian crisis with famine and disease threatening to smother the country.
Last month,
Save the Children urged the UK government to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the wake of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its consulate in Turkey.

The charity said Britain should follow suit with Germany which suspended weapons sales to Riyadh in the wake of dissident Khashoggi's violent death allegedly at the orders of the Royal court.

"Pressure has been mounting on the UK Government in recent weeks to take a stronger stance on our close relationship with Saudi Arabia. Arms sales is one area Britain can and should review. Saudi Arabia is an ally," said Kevin Watkins, the charity's CEO.

"However, the weight of evidence of violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen is now so great that it is very difficult to continue to support the Kingdom while maintaining the credibility of our arms licensing regime."

"It's time for the UK Government to join its allies and suspend selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and other members of the coalition until the coalition conducts genuine prosecutions of alleged war crimes by its forces and holds perpetrators to account," he added.

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