Exporting arms to countries like Saudi Arabia contributes to increased rates of poverty and civilian casualties, Save the Children warns in a new report.
“The UK should not undermine its humanitarian response… by exporting arms which contribute to increased rates of poverty and more civilian casualties,” the report warned.
Save the Children advocated for the Department of International Development (DFID) to have a more powerful role in the Exports Controls Joint Unit (ECJU) which makes crucial export decisions. The report stressed that the UK government should seek to make new regulations to “ensure humanitarian considerations are given either primary or far greater weight in decisions around granting of arms export licenses”.
Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign in Yemen has attracted human rights organisations to call out potential war crimes. The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), a UK-based organisation, launched a judicial review against Britain’s decision to continue arms exports to Saudi Arabia in July, in consideration of the rising civilian casualty rate in Yemen. However, the British High Court ruled that it was lawful to export weapons to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia entered the Yemen civil war in March 2015, upon the request of the internationally recognised President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, to push back military advances from the Iranian-backed Houthi group.
Some 200 children have been killed in Yemen since the start of 2017, and 10 million people are estimated to be in need of urgent need of humanitarian aid.
Since 2014, the UK government has licensed more than £3 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia.