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Global resistance to arming Saudi-led coalition in Yemen

Poster saying "Five years of war in Yemen, made in the UK"

Global resistance to arming Saudi-led coalition in Yemen

Peace Pledge Union members have joined their voices with millions of people around the world calling for an end to arms sales and military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

With people in many countries staying at home to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, dozens of organisations have joined an "online day of action" today (25 March 2020). Many are posting photos on social media, carrying messages such as "Stop Arming Saudi" and "Stop Training Saudi Troops" in various languages. Others are lobbying their MPs or sharing their concerns with family and friends.

It is five years today since the Saudi bombing of Yemen began.

The United Nations and Amnesty International have accused Saudi forces of intentionally attacking civilian targets, including schools and hospitals. As well as the thousands killed directly in aerial bombardment, thousands more have died as a result of hunger and preventable diseases. A coronavirus outbreak in the country could multiply the death and devastation further.

The Peace Pledge Union, which does not support any side in the war or any armed force, backed the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) in calling on the UK government to drop their attempt to overturn a legal ruling against UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The UK government and UK-based companies continue to arm other countries participating in the war in Yemen.

The PPU has also demanded an end to the practice of UK troops providing training to Saudi troops. Saudi pilots have been trained at RAF Valley in North Wales, before returning to their country, where many are likely to be deployed in bombing Yemen. Saudi officers train at Sandhurst. Other UK forces are providing training in Saudi Arabia itself.

The PPU said that UK "Defence" Secretary Ben Wallace misled the public last week when he said that the "entire" Ministry of Defence was devoted to tackling coronavirus. Some British troops are now helpfully delivering medical supplies to save lives, but many remain deployed to destroy lives, such as by assisting with Saudi attacks on Yemeni people.

The PPU added that the use of troops to help with logistical tasks during the coronavirus outbreak, such as delivering food and medical supplies, should mark the beginning of shifting military resources to civilian use. They added that "defence" budgets could be spent in ways that really help to make us safe, tackling ill-health, poverty and climate change, rather than on armed force, which only makes the world less safe.