Stop Arms Exports to Saudi Arabia

Yemeni children calling for Peace, USIP (CC Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0)

Yemeni children calling for Peace, USIP (CC BY-NC 2.0) [80]



  • Saudi Arabia has been leading a devastating bombing campaign of Yemen in coalition with 9 other countries.
  • Saudi Arabia has been enabled to do this through using UK arms exports.
  • Saudi Arabia is the UK’s largest recipient of arms exports, [65]
  • So wherever you are in the UK, you may not be far from a supplier of arms being used in the Saudi airstrikes
  • The UK has approved sales of over £3.8 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia since the conflict escalated in March 2015.
  • This means the UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia play a central role in the attacks which the UN estimates have now killed or injured more than 13,000 civilians [91]
  • Bombing of infrastructure has created an ideal environment in which disease is more likely to take hold, and has contributed to an unprecedented outbreak of cholera in Yemen, with the number of suspected cases racing towards 700,000 with little sign of slowing down [96].
  • 7 million people do not know where their next meal is coming from [93]
  • Supplying Saudi Arabia with arms in this conflict is immoral and illegal (see Breaches of International Laws) and needs to STOP immediately



“Providing weapons and material to factions that are known to have repeatedly violated the laws of war may make the arms suppliers complicit in those factions’ crimes and will further fan the flames of atrocities.” (Joint Statement by 8 NGO’s including HRW, Amnesty International and Mwatana, 22nd March, 2016 [10])


Yemeni chidren, al-Mazraq camp, BBC World Service (CC Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic)

Yemeni chidren, al-Mazraq camp, BBC World Service (CC BY-NC 2.0) [80]


A recent UN report [91] of 5th Sept 2017 found at least 13,893 civilians have been killed or injured between September 2014 and August 2017. Coalition airstrikes continued to be the leading cause of child casualties as well as overall civilian casualties.



VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW – There is evidence that serious violations of International Humanitarian and human rights law are being committed on both sides [10]. The recent UN report describes how human rights violations and abuses continue unabated in Yemen, along with unrelenting violations of international humanitarian law [91]. The violations seem to continue to be committed with impunity.

With the Saudi airstrikes, there is overwhelming evidence that the Saudi-led coalition has violated International Humanitarian Law through destroying essential infrastructure such as food and water supplies, and the killing of thousands of civilians. At the same time, this and a sea blockade have compounded the effect of Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, which has left two thirds of the population in need of humanitarian assistance, and 7 million people not knowing where their next meal will come from, (Disasters Emergency Committee [93] )

The World Health Organisation and UNICEF have classed Yemen as having the worst cholera outbreak in the world with the number of suspected cases increasing to 686,783 and with 2,090 deaths since late April [96].

The director of programs at Physicians for Human Rights, Homer Venters, M.D., states that:

“We must not make the mistake of thinking of these deaths and illnesses as collateral damage of war. They are not accidental, and the destruction of medical and sanitation infrastructure is part of a cruel, illegal, and intentional strategy.” [94]


The situation in Yemen has been described by the UN as an “entirely man-made catastrophe” [95].

The UK’s complicity in this must stop now. We need to add more pressure, and here’s where;


We are asking everyone who reads this, and everyone who cares about what is happening, to please, take a few minutes of your time to write to your MP urging them to;

Call on Prime Minister Theresa May and the Foreign Secretary:


1) to immediately halt the export and sales of arms from the UK to Saudi Arabia and any other country involved in the conflict until there is an independent international investigation.


2) Also ask your MP to urge the Government to support calls for an independent international inquiry to fully investigate military actions in Yemen that contravene International Humanitarian Law in order to hold perpetrators of violations of international law to account .

Let them know that you value International Humanitarian Law, and do not want the UK to have any part in the Saudi-coalitions bombings.

Be clear that continuing to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, makes the UK complicit in these indiscriminate attacks on civilians.

Many of us have emailed and tweeted about the issue, but please, if you have the time then please also write a personal letter to your MP, which can have a greater impact than a standardised email. Please share on social media and see if your friends, family, work colleagues, college, places of worship, community centre, pub, club etc, are willing to write letters too

Both Oxfam [66] and the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) [67] also have their own campaign information and details on how to lobby your MP on this issue which are great resources with in depth background information

Please also consider copying in Act for Justice and Peace so that we can account for how many emails have been sent


A recent report by the UN Human Rights Office [91] found 5,144 civilians have been documented as killed and more than 8,749 injured between Sept 2014 and Aug 2017. Out of this number, 3, 233 of the civilians were reportedly killed by Coalition forces. The UN states that these figures are a conservative estimate, given the strict verification methodology applied by OHCHR. Tragically, the actual total of civilian casualties is likely to be much higher. Out of these civilians, 1,184 children have been documented as killed and 1,592 children as injured.

The report said that the Saudi-led coalition air strikes were the leading cause of civilian and child casualties. [92]  In fact, the UN Secretary General’s report of April 2016 attributed two thirds of deaths to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition air strikes.

According to Action On Armed Violence statistics, there were 11,811 deaths and injuries from explosive violence between 2015 and 2016 in Yemen. 76% of deaths were civilians. 69% of civilian deaths and injuries were caused by air-launched weapons, and in over 99% of these cases the airstrike was perpetrated by the Saudi-led coalition [Action On Armed Violence, AOAV 68]


The Saudi-led coalition have imposed an ongoing sea blockade of Yemen which is preventing vital food aid from getting through. This combined with the bombing is having a catastrophic effect on a country which relies on imports for 90% of it’s food. Yemen is by far the poorest country in the Arab world, and is tremendously vulnerable to international commodity prices and volatility, due to the country’s severe food and water insecurity. The UN declared Yemen a Level 3 crisis on 1 July 2015, a category reserved for the most serious and complex crises [31] and two thirds of the population (18.8 million out of 27.4 million) is in urgent need of some kind of humanitarian assistance [66].

Poverty in Yemen and the country’s food and water insecurity has combined with the impact of the sea blockade and the bombing of a main port and major roads to add to a crisis situation, in which half of the country – that’s around 14 million people – are suffering from hunger and needing help before it’s too late. Of these, 7 million are severely hungry and don’t know where their next meal will come from. Half a million infants and young children are needing immediate treatment for severe acute malnutrition [66]

“The reticence of the international community in demanding justice for the victims of the conflict in Yemen is shameful, and in many ways contributing to the continuing horror.” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein 5/9/17 [97]


There are UK arms companies who will be directly profiting from the Saudi-led coalitions bombing of Yemen


Sana'a, Yemen right after sunset - before the bombing, LouisL (CC Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic).

Sana’a, Yemen right after sunset – by LouisL (CC BY-NC 2.0) the old city, UNESCO Heritage Site, before the bombing, Creative Commons via Flickr, [80]