The UK has made 10 times more in arms sales to Saudi Arabia than it’s given in aid to Yemen

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Similarly, the US sold a record amount of arms to Saudi Arabia under Obama’s administration, with sales set to continue under Trump. Earlier this month the State Department approved a resumption in the $300m sale of US-made precision-guided missiles, a deal blocked late in Obama’s administration due to concerns over civilian casualties

yemen-children.jpgUN humanitarian aid chief Stephen O’Brien looks at a child during a visit to the Mother and Child hospital in the Yemeni capital Sanaa Getty

Bustling, buzzing and bartering. That is how I would once have described a typical market (or souk) in Yemen.

Not any longer. These days they’re often barren and lifeless. During my many visits, I’ve seen the devastation of once busy souks destroyed by Saudi coalition airstrikes. Skeletal structures of buildings and stalls lie empty where once vibrant businesses sold coffee, spices, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, clothes and children’s toys.

By contrast, on the other side of the world a lucrative market in high-tech weaponry is positively thriving. Over the past two years, the UK and the US have sold billions of pounds’ worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, arms used to obliterate Yemeni markets and much else.

In Yemen, I’ve met countless victims of airstrikes who’ve lost loved ones or had livelihoods destroyed, leaving them impoverished and destitute. After two years of this, the country is facing a humanitarian disaster of epic proportions, with more than 18 million Yemenis requiring humanitarian assistance.

On the one hand, the UK and US have supported Yemen with around £371.5m in aid during the past two conflict-ridden years. On the other, British and American arms companies, with the authorisation of the UK and US governments, have busily supplied much of the weaponry that Saudi Arabia has used for its devastating attacks in its southern neighbour.

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