Australian arms sales to Yemen must stop

Responding to the US Congress vote to end military assistance to Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, Oxfam Australia’s Director of Programs Anthea Spinks said:

“It’s hard to overstate the dire situation that the people of Yemen are in as a direct result of the ongoing conflict.

“More than 24 million people, or 80 per cent of the population, are in need of humanitarian and protection assistance.

“It’s a matter of record that the Australian Government has granted arms export licences to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – two of the major protagonists – since the outbreak of the conflict in 2015.

“The Australian Government must immediately suspend arms transfers to warring parties in Yemen, and not grant future arms transfer licences until there is firm evidence that arms are not being used to commit serious violations or grave breaches of International Humanitarian Law.

“The US Congress vote sends a clear message that it is pushing for peace and will no longer put up with the US Government’s unconditional support for the Saudi/UAE-led coalition.

“We urgently call on the Australian Government to do the same.

“The death toll is mounting – just recently, we saw more civilians killed in Yemen as coalition airstrikes and intense fighting hit hospitals. This conflict is being fuelled by a flow of arms that must stop.

“Through Oxfam’s work in the country, we see firsthand the devastating impact of ongoing conflict on the people of Yemen, including as a result of the repeated targeting of civilian infrastructure by all sides.

“Homes, schools, hospitals, along with Oxfam’s water projects, have been repeatedly bombed, almost 20 million Yemenis lack access to basic healthcare and they are experiencing one of the largest cholera outbreaks in recent history.

“Ultimately, Yemen needs peace. Now more than ever the stark reality is that there must be a political, not military, solution to this crisis, and the international community has an integral role to play in seeing this achieved.

“We urge the Australian Government to work with other governments and the United Nations to exert maximum pressure on all sides to stop the conflict and engage in an inclusive peace process with the people of Yemen.”

/Public Release.