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Over Half of Brits Unaware UK Weapons Deployed By Saudis in Yemen War
Lizzie Dearden

More than half of British people are unaware of the "forgotten war" underway in Yemen, despite the Government's support for a military coalition accused of killing thousands of civilians.

Yemeni boy amidst rubbles

A YouGov poll seen exclusively by The Independent showed 49 per cent of people knew of the country's ongoing war, which has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced three million more and left 14 million facing starvation.

The figure was even lower for the 18 to 24 age group, where only 37 per cent were aware of the Yemen conflict as it enters its third year of bloodshed.

More than 2,100 people were given a list of 16 countries and asked to identify any "currently involved in an ongoing armed conflict" for the research, with 84 per cent naming the Syrian war.

The Human Appeal, a Manchester-based charity that commissioned the poll, warned a lack of international awareness was worsening a worsening humanitarian crisis in the Yemen.

"The crisis in Yemen has been forgotten about or ignored completely," said CEO Othman Moqbel.

"We believe this is because that the conflict has not generated a huge amount of refugees coming to Europe and there is the misperception amongst the public that it's only a regional crisis.

"To treat what is currently happening in Yemen, and has been happening for two years, as something insignificant is turning a blind eye to the escalating humanitarian emergency."

At least 75 people are estimated to be killed or injured every day in the conflict, which has pushed the country to the brink of famine as 14 million people lack a stable access to food.

Fewer than half of Yemen's health facilities are operational as aid agencies struggle to access war-torn regions with lifesaving medicine, and around 1,000 children die every week from preventable diseases like diarrhea and respiratory infections.

Almost 3,800 civilians have been killed by the conflict...
The conflict started in March 2015 after an opposition offensive drove the government out of the capital Sanaa, sparking an intervention by Saudi Arabia and its allies...
The UN human rights office said the Saudi-led air campaign... was responsible for 60 per cent of civilian deaths - almost 2,300 lives.

British-manufactured weapons, including cluster bombs, have been used in the strikes, despite calls by MPs to suspend sales to Saudi Arabia over war crimes allegations.

Peter Salisbury, a senior research fellow in the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House, said Britain was the principal sponsor of a UN Security Council resolution used by Saudi Arabia to justify its intervention.

"The UK is also a huge arms supplier and provides a great deal of logistical support to Saudi forces," he told The Independent.

"Arguably the UK has also given political coverage to the Saudis by preventing various resolutions and investigations from happening."

...

As battles continue, the Human Appeal is among international charities attempting to provide aid to Yemen's impoverished population.

It has provided food parcels to thousands of families, clean drinking water for 37,500 people, blankets, clothing and healthcare projects including supporting the Al Jumhori public hospital.

Hundreds of Somali refugees who originally fled conflict in their home country are among those caught up in the violence in Yemen, with more than 40 massacred by a helicopter gunship as they attempted to flee on a boat on Thursday night.

While the humanitarian situation deteriorates, the conflict has largely reached a stalemate, with Ansarullah controlling much of densely populated western Yemen, the Hadi government in the center and east and pockets of territory held by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP], extremist militias and "ISIS".

But the UN Refugee Agency has warned of intensified hostilities in recent weeks, forcing more than 62,000 people from their homes in western and central Yemen, who are now sleeping in public buildings, tents, on the streets or in ruined buildings.

Calling Yemen a "forgotten war", Mr Salisbury said neither a peaceful resolution nor an outright victory for any party was likely in the near future.

"The Trump presidency could see US play a more decisive role," he added, although American forces have mainly been targeting AQAP terrorists, including in a botched raid that killed dozens of civilians earlier this year.

"Yemen is not an island, it is connected to other countries and the rest of the world and we're seeing this massive growth in sectarian violence.

"All of these things have long-tern consequences for countries outside of Yemen."

..."British personnel are not involved in carrying out strikes, directing or conducting operations in Yemen, nor involved in the Saudi targeting decision-making process," a spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told The Independent

"Peace talks are the top priority. The UK has played a leading role in diplomatic efforts, including bringing together key international actors to try and find a peaceful solution."

The UK is the fourth largest donor to Yemen, committing £103 million in humanitarian aid last year.

Source: The Independent, Edited by website team

18-03-2017 | 12:02


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