G20 arms exports to Saudi Arabia worth three times aid to Yemen since 2015 – Oxfam

Some countries, member of the G20, have exported more than US$17bn worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since it became involved in the conflict in Yemen in 2015 but have given only a third of that amount in aid to people caught in the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis, Oxfam said today.

The G20 heads of state are due to meet virtually later this week at a summit hosted by Saudi Arabia. Arms sales to the Gulf nation could come under fresh scrutiny as the US president-elect, Joe Biden, is on the record as saying he would stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia that fuel the war in Yemen.

After five years of conflict, Yemen was already suffering the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis with 10 million people going hungry, the largest cholera outbreak on record and only half of hospitals fully functioning. Oxfam reported in August that there has been one air raid every ten days on hospitals, clinics, wells and water tanks throughout the war.

 The arrival of coronavirus has only worsened these dire circumstances. And yet the United Nations’ response plan to get clean water, food and medical care to the most vulnerable is only 44% funded this year.

Saudi Arabia’s decision to lead a coalition of eight countries against Yemen escalated the conflict and has been responsible for all air raids over more than five years. When arms exports by G20 nations to other members of this coalition are included, the figure of $17bn rises to at least US$31.4bn between 2015 and 2019, the last year for which records are available. That’s more than five times the amount those member nations of the G20 have given in aid to Yemen between 2015 and 2020. In addition, Saudi Arabia has given $3.8bn in aid.

Muhsin Siddiquey, Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director said: “Having suffered years of death, displacement and disease, the people of Yemen need these powerful members of the international community to bring all parties to the conflict together to agree to an immediate countrywide ceasefire and return to negotiations committed to achieving a lasting peace.

“Making billions from arms exports which fuel the conflict while providing a small fraction of that in aid to Yemen is both immoral and incoherent,” he said, pointing out that the world’s wealthiest nations cannot continue to put profits above the Yemeni people.

Source: OXFAM International