UK arm sales to Yemen fueling 'pattern' of civilian abuses, reveals Oxfam report

UK arm sales to Yemen fueling 'pattern' of civilian abuses, reveals Oxfam report
A report from Oxfam revealed on Wednesday that UK arms sales to Yemen have been fueling an ongoing cycle of civilian abuse in the war-torn country.
2 min read
11 January, 2023
Oxfam estimated that over 2,600 civilian causalities have occurred in Yemen from January 2021 to February 2022 [source: Getty]

UK arms sales to Yemen have fueled a pattern of civilian destruction and potential violations of international humanitarian law, an Oxfam report revealed on Wednesday. 

The 43-page document, entitled "Fueling Conflict", detailed how the UK has bolstered the war in Yemen by transferring weapons and ammunition valued at over £23 billion ($27.9bn) to the Saudi-led coalition. 

The UK charity documented how attacks by the Saudi-led coalition, averaging one per day, have caused systematic harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure. It also rebuked the UK government's claims that any humanitarian law violations were "isolated incidents that did not display any particular pattern". 

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"The data examined by Oxfam in this report clearly lays out the human harm of the war in Yemen, its multiple impacts on civilians, and the destruction of civilian infrastructure," the report said. 

"There is a clear pattern of harm to civilians through military actions, amounting to hundreds of incidents every month. Much of that harm is done by the SLC through airstrikes across the country." 

The UK has provided military equipment and support to the Saudi-led coalition since its intervention in Yemen against Houthi rebels starting in March 2015. 

More than seven years of fighting in the Arab nation have wrought one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, with 23.7 million Yemenis currently in need of humanitarian assistance. 

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The Oxfam report, which focuses on data from January 2021 to February 2022, estimates that there have been 1,727 incidents causing civilian casualties or destruction, with 25 percent of the attacks perpetrated by the Saudi-led coalition. 

The document warns of the risk of further violations of international humanitarian law, and urges the UK to cancel or at least suspended its arms licences to "all combatant parties". 

It also called for greater accountability given the sheer scale of destruction in Yemen, demanding that the UN establish an "effective, independent, widely accepted accountability mechanism". 

Last year, a ceasefire agreement was reached between the Houthis and Yemen's Saudi-backed government. This offered a glimmer of hope for long-embattled Yemeni civilians, however the warring sides failed to renew the ceasefire in October, and the war has continued into 2023.