$1.15 billion arms sale threatens countless lives in war-torn Yemen

Oxfam has been working in the Huth camp, north of Yemen’s capital, since late 2015, providing humanitarian assistance to displaced people with safe drinking water and other lifesaving humanitarian aid. Photo: Kate Wiggans/Oxfam

Oxfam urges Congress to say no to a deal with Saudi Arabia that will only fuel the fighting and bring more suffering to people.

The US government’s planned sale of $1.15 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia couldn’t be a worse idea for the people of Yemen. Although the warring parties in Yemen bear responsibility for a conflict that has killed and injured over 10,000 civilians, displaced over 3 million people, and dragged half the population into hunger, foreign governments offering support and weapons to those parties also bear responsibility as they have legitimized the conflict, shielded the parties from criticism, and enabled them to continue fighting.

With Yemen’s economy on the verge of collapse and prices of food, fuel, and medical supplies skyrocketing, the US government says it wants to end the war there. But by selling arms to Saudi Arabia and refueling its jets on bombing runs, the US is sending a very different message, enabling the conflict to continue by putting more tanks on the battlefield.

The poorest country in the Middle East before coalition airstrikes began, Yemen is now staggering under a massive humanitarian catastrophe. One third of all Yemeni children under the age of 5 are suffering from acute malnutrition and more than 14 million people don’t have enough to eat.

“Most nights I wake up thinking about the food I don’t have,” Um Ali told Oxfam last spring, a year into the war. A 39-year-old mother, she fled from Taiz after her family’s home was completely destroyed.

“We can’t even afford to buy a bag of wheat,” she said. “Sometimes I can only find dry bread, which I break into small pieces and dip in water to feed my children.” Though her husband goes out daily looking for work, his efforts are in vain, Um Ali said: “I am a mother. I don’t want to see my children suffering.”

But with the possibility of more US-funded arms fueling the war, that suffering will know no bounds.

“As long as American tanks and bombs are involved in the conflict, more lives will be lost,” warned Scott Paul, a senior humanitarian policy advisor for Oxfam who just returned from Yemen. “Throughout my visit, I was asked repeatedly why the US is bombing Yemen. We’re technically not, but we’re supporting the Saudi-led coalition that is. I didn’t have a good answer.”

But there is a solution: We’re demanding that Congress oppose the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

And we’re urging you to join us. Stand with Yemen and stop the sale of more weapons to the Saudis. 

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