At a time when millions of people across the world are concerned about food supplies and the ability of our health systems to respond to crisis, we must keep up the pressure for peace in Yemen, a country whose fragile health system has been devastated by five years of war.
This is a war supported by the UK government, with UK-based arms companies profiting from the destruction. Now more than ever, it is time for peace.
At the time of writing in early April, there are new reports of Saudi forces declaring a two week ceasefire. This is the second ceasefire to be reported in as many weeks – but we still have to still hope this one holds and is taken up by other parties to the conflict. The UK and other arms dealing governments can play their part by finally ending their arms sales and support for the continuing bombardment.
March 25th marked five years since the Saudi-Arabian led coalition began bombing Yemen, and in those five years Yemen’s health system has “almost collapsed.”
Even without any recorded cases of Covid-19, it is already enduring a humanitarian catastrophe with millions facing starvation and disease. That is why the World Health Organisation has warned that the virus could prove to be particularly devastating in Yemen.
This is not a natural disaster, but a man-made catastrophe. As analysis from Yemeni-based Mwatana for Human Rights shows: “This state of affairs is not an arbitrary consequence of war. It is the direct result of how the conflict has been prosecuted by warring parties: with utter disregard for international law and humanitarian norms.”
Attacks by the Saudi-led coalition have destroyed infrastructure across Yemen. Saudi forces have targeted hospitals, clinics and vaccinations centres. Blockades have starved the population and made it hard for hospitals to get essential medical supplies.
The UK is complicit: many of the Coalition’s attacks have been carried out with UK-made fighter jets, and UK-made bombs and missiles – and the UK government has supported them with billions of pounds of arms sales.
The same is true of companies and governments across Europe. On the fifth anniversary of the war, we worked together with allies to show this war is “Made in Europe” – sharing online messages across the continent in solidarity and resistance.
Thank you for your messages of determination and hope.
Messages from CAAT supporters
European countries that produce & sell arms to Saudi are complicit in the war crimes in Yemen! Stop producing & selling arms to Saudi! Stop profiting from killing & human misery!
To the people of Yemen – I am sorry for all that my country has done to continue this war. God bless you and keep you safe.
Our UK government is complicit: many of the Coalition’s attacks have been carried out with UK-made fighter jets, and UK-made bombs and missiles – and the UK government has supported them with billions of pounds of arms sales. Meanwhile, there were no test-kits or PPEs for the UK doctors and nurses on the front line. This madness must be defeated by people organising.
This is a time and opportunity to show our solidarity against the continuing arms trade with Saudi Arabia, to persuade both producers and governments that our fight against the coronavirus shows how truly frail is the human condition. This new awareness should now be built on to lead to the permanent blocking of such trade and such terrible outcomes
We have shown we are far more capable of dramatic and drastic change than we had ourselves believe. Now is the time to look to our true necessities of unity, compassion and integrity, and to build on this in all our future plans.
Ethics need to be at the heart of government policy and encompass everything, including foreign policy and arms sales. Pursuing basic human rights is just that: basic; fundamental.
I am disgusted by Britain’s foreign policy and sales of arms. Morals should come before profit. The excess production capacity could be used to manufacture something useful.
Now, more than ever, it is time to promote peace, not profit from war. Without peace there can be no effective global response to COVID-19. And while communities around the world work to build peace, the UK must immediately end all arms sales, which only fuel and exacerbate tensions and divert spending away from critical human needs.
Visit caat.org.uk/act-now to support calls for a global ceasefire, and for the UK to end its arms sales.
This article was originally published in CAAT News – you can read the whole magazine online here.