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Rights groups demand UK end Saudi, UAE arms sales

November 25, 2020 at 9:33 am

Protesters demonstrate against the UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia in London, UK on 7 March 2018 [TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images]

Two human rights groups called on Britain to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in light of their ongoing involvement in the war in Yemen.

A joint report issued on Monday by Sam for Rights and Liberties (a Yemeni non-governmental organisation based in Geneva) and FSPD (a British non-governmental organisation) said: “The United Kingdom should listen to calls by international organizations (such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in previous statements) to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”

The statement pointed out that “Saudi purchases accounted for 41 percent of the total of British arms exports between 2010 and 2019, while the UK secures 19 percent of Saudi Arabia’s arms imports.”

“Based on data provided by arms ban campaigners, the total value of British export licenses of military products to Saudi Arabia since the start of the bombing in Yemen amounts to £5.4 billion ($7.20 billion), however the real value of weapons exports is not less than £16 billion ($21.34 billion),” the statement explained.

READ: UN chief warns Yemen in imminent danger of famine

According to the report, the arms exports of British companies include: “aircrafts, helicopters, drones, hardware, and defence-related products, worth £3 billion, in addition to £2.5 billion worth of bombs, missiles and grenades.”

Yemen is suffering from a humanitarian crisis which the UN this week once again warned could lead to mass deaths among civilians as a result of famine.