The conflict in Yemen has revealed how profits accrue to British arms companies selling on behalf of the British government to Saudi Arabia – this in turn has caused a humanitarian crisis for the Yemeni people, causing British development agencies to challenge the UK government’s culpability in this.
Thirteen civilian casualties a day in Yemen conflict. The UN has put the death toll (since March 2015 and up to August 2016) at more than 10,000, with 3,799 of them being civilians. At least 7.6 million people, including three million women and children, are currently suffering from malnutrition and at least three million people have been forced to flee their homes.
Just under half of Yemen’s population is under 18 and at least 1,339 children are among the dead, according to the UN children’s fund (Unicef).
19 million people were in need of some form of humanitarian or protection assistance. Almost 14.4 million people in Yemen are food insecure. This includes more than seven million people in desperate need of food assistance; that is one in five of the country’s population. Yemen has one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world and now an estimated 1 in 5 people are “severely food insecure” and in urgent need of food assistance. About 3.3 million children and pregnant or breast-feeding women are acutely malnourished, including 462,000 children under five who face severe acute malnutrition. That represents a 63% increase since late 2015 and threatens the lives and life-long prospects of those affected, according to the UN.
The conflict has also forced some 560,000 out of school, raising the total number of school-age children out of school in Yemen to 2.2 million. During the 2015/2016 school year, UNICEF reported 1,600 school closures across the country.
The Saudi-led coalition bombing of Yemen has been condemned by the UN for carrying out “widespread and systematic” attacks on civilian targets in violation of international law.
More than one-third of all Saudi-led air raids on Yemen have hit civilian sites, such as school buildings, hospitals, markets, mosques and economic infrastructure, according to the most comprehensive survey of the conflict, conducted by the Yemen Data Project, a group of academics, human rights organisers and activists. More than 8,600 air attacks between March 2015, when the Saudi-led campaign began, and the end of August 2016. Of these, 3,577 were listed as having hit military sites and 3,158 struck non-military sites. Where it could not be established whether a location attacked was civilian or military, the strikes were classified as unknown, of which there are 1,882 incidents.
Over the course of the war, the survey lists 942 attacks on residential areas, 114 on markets, 34 on mosques, 147 on school buildings, 26 on universities and 378 on transport. One school building in Dhubab, Taiz governorate, has been hit nine times, according to the data. A market in Sirwah, Marib governorate, has been struck 24 times. Several MSF (Doctors Without Borders) facilities have been bombed by Saudi air strikes.
Britain, along with France, remains one of the biggest suppliers of arms to Saudi Arabia. UK has licensed over £3.3bn worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the bombing began in March 2015, including £2.2bn on aircraft, helicopters and drones, £1.1bn on grenades, bombs, missiles and countermeasures, and £430,000 in armoured vehicles and tanks. Fifty-eight Eurofighter jets and 2,400 500lb Pathway-IV guided missiles have been sold by Britain to Saudi Arabia in 2015. The Saudi government has admitted it has used UK-manufactured cluster bombs against Houthi rebels, while Britain’s foreign office admits that UK typhoons have been used in Yemen.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia formed a coalition of Arab states to defeat the Houthis in Yemen. The coalition now includes Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Senegal. Several of these countries have sent troops to fight on the ground in Yemen, while others have only carried out air strikes.
Al-Qaeda and ISIL have spread as a result of the chaos.
Yemen usually imports more than 90% of staple food. But a naval embargo imposed by the Saudi-led coalition have severely reduced imports since 2015. A lack of fuel, coupled with insecurity and damage to markets and roads, have also prevented supplies from being distributed. The poverty rate has doubled to 62%, with public sector salaries – on which about 30% of the population depend – paid only irregularly.
An estimated 14.8 million people lack access to basic healthcare, with 8.8 million living in severely affected areas. Only 45% of the 3,507 health facilities surveyed by the World Health Organization in November were fully functioning, and even they faced severe medicine, equipment and staff shortages. As of October 2016, at least 274 health facilities had been damaged or destroyed in the conflict.
As of December, the UN’s appeal for $1.6bn (£1.25bn) to allow it to assist 11.7 million people in Yemen was only 58% funded.
Since the onset of the crisis in 2011, at least 400,000 people have been killed.
13.5 million people in Syria are in urgent need of humanitarian support, protection and livelihoods, including 5.8 million children. Of these, 6.3 million people have been uprooted from their homes and forced to relocate, while close to 5 million have fled the country, so in total 11 million people have been left homeless.
More than 75 percent of Syrian refugees are women and children.
Since 2011, 50 Syrian families have been displaced every hour of every day. The pace of displacement remains relentless.
Three out of four Syrians live in poverty.
Nearly 7000 airstrikes since a US-led campagin began in September 2014.
The US-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Syria has killed at least 300 civilians in airstrikes. Russian raids have killed at least 3,600 civilians in just over a year. (2016)
In 2016 alone, the United Stataes dropped at least 26171 bombs, approximately 12000 bombs of which was in Syria.
The Russian air force in Syria has conducted 19,160 sorties, delivering over 71,000 strikes since the start of an anti-terrorist operation on Sept. 30, 2015, said Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff.
In one year alone (2015), USA sold $33 Billion in Weapons to Gulf Cooperation Council states—that’s Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Where munitions are concerned, the twin bombing campaigns against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and against Houthi rebels in Yemen are driving sales of precision weapons and “dumb” bombs alike. In 2015, the U.S. delivered 4,500 precision guided munitions to GCC states, including 1,500 taken from the U.S. military’s own inventories.
Air Force chief of staff General Mark Welsh said the U.S. was “expending munitions faster than we can replenish them,” warning of a shortage of precision-guided Hellfire missiles and other munitions. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James stated “we’re in the business of killing terrorists, and business is good.”
Bombs makers like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, and General Dynamics all stand to benefit from the uptick in overseas sales. Lockheed alone has already received $18 million to bump its Hellfire missile production from 500 to 650 missiles per month. Lockheed has also quadrupled production of Paveway II laser-guided bombs, a favorite of the Saudi Royal Air Force. All that’s on top of the $1.8 billion the Pentagon is asking for in its fiscal 2017 budget request to fund the production of 45,000 smart bombs to replenish its own stores.
Eastern European countries – Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Montenegro, Slovakia, Serbia and Romania – have approved the discreet sale of more than €1bn of weapons in the past four years to Middle Eastern countries that are known to ship arms to Syria. Since the escalation of the Syrian conflict in 2012, the eight countries have approved €1.2bn (£1bn) of weapons and ammunition exports to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey – key arms markets for Syria and Yemen. In the past, the region had virtually no track record of buying from central and eastern Europe. But purchases appear to be escalating, with some of the biggest deals approved in 2015.
Germany delivered nearly 13 million euros in weapons to Syria between 2002 and 2013 – mainly tanks, chemical agents and small arms. In 2014, Germany also delivered 8,000 Heckler & Koch G36 and G3 assault rifles to Peshmerga fighters in Syria.
The Kremlin said it spent almost $500m on its military operation in Syria from 09/15 to 03/16. But Moscow could earn a lot more after the world saw Russia-made weapons, old and new, battle-tested by the Russian air force and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military on the ground.The Kommersant daily said in 2016, quoting Kremlin insiders and military analysts, that the “marketing effect” of the Syrian conflict will boost Russia’s arms sales by up to $7bn. In 2015, Russian arms exports hit a record $14.5bn because of their “reliability and high effectiveness”, President Putin said in late March. The figure was higher than expected, and foreign orders for Russian weapons exceeded $56bn, Putin added, addressing a meeting of defence officials.
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT)