Today, the UK’s top judges have ruled that the government has broken the law by sending arms to Saudi Arabia that can be used to kill thousands of women, men and children in Yemen.
It’s been four years since all-out conflict began in Yemen and the humanitarian crisis gripping the country is growing graver by the day. Here are 7 things you need to know about the conflict in Yemen so you can help push for change.
Children collect water, in a village in Hajjah governorate, Yemen.
A solar pump system was installed, and water schemes have been rehabilitated.
This well is now providing a water supply for more than 615 households in
eight neighbouring villages. Photo: Sami M. Jassar
1. It’s the worst humanitarian crisis in the world
Since the conflict escalated in March 2015, fighting has killed thousands of civilians and forced nearly three million people to flee their homes. Yemen has experienced a cholera epidemic of record proportions and the UN has warned that the country is on the brink of the worst famine the world has seen in decades. 24 million people are in need of assistance – it is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world
2. It’s a man-made crisis
The people of Yemen are not starving. They are being starved. This crisis is entirely man-made, brought on by conflict which has continued for four years.
Now more than ever a ceasefire is needed.
Airstrikes, fighting on the ground and restrictions on imports have left 10 million people facing famine.
Food sources – markets, farms, food imports – have been attacked or negatively impacted. And the price of what limited food there is is high, leaving those with the least suffering the most.
3. Peace could be on the horizon
Six months ago, the warring parties attended peace talks in Sweden. The fact talks took place after such a long stalemate period is a big step forward.
More fighting and airstrikes in the country only deepen the suffering – if the fragile Hodeidah ceasefire collapses and UAE-led assault resumes, it would be a catastrophe leading to famine.
Yemen needs a nationwide ceasefire now to prevent millions from starving.
4. The UK is fuelling the conflict
The UK Government’s decision to continue licensing the export of military equipment to Saudi Arabia is unlawful. The Government’s efforts will mean a lot more if arms sales to the Saudi Arabia coalition are immediately suspended.
The UK role in Yemen is puzzling. On the one hand, the UK donates a lot of aid to, and campaigns for peace in, Yemen. On the other hand, selling arms that allow the Saudi-led coalition to continue bombing Yemen – including hospitals, schools and markets – is a contradiction that has proved catastrophic for the Yemeni people.
It is vital the Government immediately suspends arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
5. Change is possible
Pressure from people like you has already helped to push the UK government to do more to promote peace in Yemen – but there is still so much more they can do.
The UK government must:
– Stop selling arms to the Saudi Arabia – and take a stand against the atrocities of war. This will help avoid the risk of serious human rights violations
– Call for a nationwide ceasefire and carry on playing a leading role in peace talks to ensure a lasting end to the war – as long as the conflict continues, millions of Yemenis will remain trapped in a daily struggle to survive
– Help to ensure humanitarian aid and commercial goods get to where they’re needed – to protect people from disease and starvation
It’s easy to feel powerless when you read about what seems an unendingly grim situation in Yemen. But there are things you can do to help; and the first step is to let our political leaders know you’re watching and will never look away from Yemenis’ suffering.
Let’s call on the UK government to help stop the crisis once and for all.
As UK citizens, we have the power to push for change.
6. Oxfam is there
Since July 2015, Oxfam has reached more than 3 million people in nine areas of Yemen – with clean water, sanitation and help to buy food.
Oxfam has been working in Yemen since 1983, and we have never seen a humanitarian crisis of this scale in the country. It is now one of our biggest responses. The ongoing war makes our work incredibly challenging, but let’s keep doing what it takes to save lives.
7. Only an end to the conflict will ease the suffering
Only this can halt the downward spiral that is forcing people to take such desperate measures. The international community needs to do everything in its power to end the fighting. To ensure people have the food, water and medicine they so desperately need.
Food should never be a weapon of war. Be part of the movement for change, call on the UK Government to do all it can.