Oxfam has slammed the British government over the disparity between the profit it makes from the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and the amount of aid it donates to Yemen, which has been ravaged by a Saudi-led military campaign against Houthi rebels.
“The UK government’s approach to Yemen has been illegal, immoral and incoherent,” said the major NGO in a briefing this morning. It suggested that Britain was profiting from the war through its sale of weapons and bore some responsibility for the humanitarian crisis that has unfolded since the Saudi-led coalition offensive started in 2015.
Britain has donated $952 million (around £770 million) to Yemen over the past four years, making the country the sixth largest recipient of UK aid, Oxfam’s report pointed out. The charity recognised Britain as “an important donor to aid programmes in Yemen.” At the same time, though, Britain has made $7.6 billion from arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other coalition members.
Oxfam noted that the amount that Britain has made from arms export to the Saudi led coalition is more than eight times the amount of aid Yemen has received from the government in London since March 2015. It claimed that the $7.6 billion would be enough to cover the shortfall in funding for the UN’s response plan for 2019 almost three times over.
Reacting to Britain’s contradictory policy, Oxfam Chief Executive Danny Sriskandarajah said: “The UK government’s approach to Yemen is completely incoherent – on the one hand offering lifesaving aid to people devastated by the conflict, and on the other, helping to fuel that conflict by arming those involved.”
Oxfam criticised the British government’s effort to overturn a Court of Appeal ruling which said that its arms sales to Saudi Arabia were unlawful. The charity called on the government to respect the court judgment, halt arms sales indefinitely, and focus its efforts on halting the conflict and getting more donations for emergency relief.
Last week UN investigators concluded that the US, Britain and France may be complicit in war crimes in Yemen by arming and providing intelligence and logistics support to the Saudi-led coalition.