Britain has sold £5.7bn of weapons to Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen

Aftermath of a Saudi-led airstrike in Sana'a.

Britain has sold more than £5.7bn worth of weapons to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen since the war started in March 2015.

An analysis by Sky News has revealed more than 80% of the arms were received by Saudi Arabia.

The total amount is most likely significantly higher because of the use of a type of licence that enables the agreement to be extended over time. The UK government is not obliged to clarify the final figure.

Figures from the Department of International Trade which was compiled by the Campaign Against Arms Trade and verified by Sky News, show the British government licensed £5.7bn worth of weapons to the coalition.

The war in Yemen has seen tens of thousands die and millions living in famine.

The coalition is fighting against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who ousted a Saudi-backed and internationally recognised government into exile.

The coalition is made up of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Sudan and Senegal – and is backed by the UK, France and the US.

Qatar was a member of the coalition until it exited in June 2017, while Morocco halted its participation in February.

Britain has sold weapons to all the nations who are or were formally part of this coalition, with the exception of Sudan.

The value of the licences given from the beginning of the war up to the latest accessible data, or until the country no longer was part of the coalition, are:

  • Saudi Arabia: £4.7bn
  • United Arab Emirates: £600m
  • Qatar: £143m
  • Egypt: £120m
  • Bahrain: £70m
  • Jordan: £43m
  • Kuwait: £36m
  • Morocco: £6m
  • Senegal: £300,000

A report published by the US-based University Network for Human Rights (UNHR) and Yemeni monitoring group Mwatana in February stated that American and British bombs have killed and maimed nearly a thousand civilians, including more than 120 children in Yemen since the war started.

The number of arms and the amount of revenue Britain has accrued from sales to the counties will be much higher than currently reported.

A spokesperson for the Department for International Trade said: “The government takes its export responsibilities very seriously. We operate one of the most robust export control regimes in the world and keep our defence exports to Saudi Arabia under careful and continual review.

“All export licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, taking account of all relevant factors at the time of the application.

“We will not a grant a licence if to do so would be inconsistent with these criteria.”

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade, which is legally challenging the British government’s decision to continue to license the export of arms to Saudi Arabia, told Sky News: “No matter how bad the crisis in Yemen has become, the Saudi-led coalition has been able to depend on the continued political and military support of the UK government.

“Jeremy Hunt has talked about the need for peace, but this war would not be possible without the fighter jets and bombs that are being sold by arms dealing government like the UK.”

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