Maurizio Blondet 5 Febbraio 2019 Volete sapere tutto sul mondo delle ONG, ossia le Organizzazioni Non Governative? Volete leggere quello che gli altri non scrivono sugli affari, le cifre, i protagonisti, le connection di quell’universo in gran parte sconosciuto e che macina milioni di euro e di dollari sulla pelle dei cittadini, soprattutto dei migranti? Di coloro…
Leading poverty charity Oxfam has condemned the UK’s massive arms deals with Saudi Arabia, blasting the British government as “one of the most significant violators” of the international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
Last year, London approved the sale of more than £3 billion worth of weapons to the Riyadh regime, helping the Arab monarchy with its ruthless military aggression against Yemen which has killed about 10,000 people since it began in March 2015.
Oxfam says the war has put millions of people in the poverty-stricken country on the verge of a humanitarian crisis.
Penny Lawrence, deputy chief executive of Oxfam GB, is expected to censure Britain’s unconditional support for Saudi Arabia during a speech at the Second Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty in Geneva, on Tuesday.
“Schools, hospitals and homes have been bombed in contravention of the rules of war,” she will say, referring to numerous Saudi airstrikes that have intentionally targeted civilians and critical infrastructure.
Last week, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) decided to pull its staff out of the war-torn country following a number of deadly Saudi airstrikes on MSF-run hospitals across Yemen.
“The UK government is in denial and disarray over its arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition bombing campaign in Yemen,” Lawrence will continue. “It has misled its own parliament about its oversight of arms sales and its international credibility is in jeopardy as it commits to action on paper but does the opposite in reality.”
Britain is one of the key states backing Saudi Arabia’s war on its southern neighbor, which was launched as an attempt to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstate former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of its own.
Under the ATT, signatories are required to block any arms deal if they have knowledge at the time of the sale that the weapons will be used against civilians.
A UN report leaked to the Guardian in January found “widespread and systematic” targeting of civilians in the Saudi-led strikes. The report found 119 strikes that it said violated international humanitarian law.
This is while, according to Amnesty International, the UK government sold 2,400 missiles and 58 warplanes to Saudi Arabia in 2015. London is also accused of providing the Saudis with banned weapons such as cluster bombs.
After ceasefire talks collapsed and violence erupted yet again, Oxfam today called on all states to immediately suspend transfers of arms or ammunition to Israel and any Palestinian armed group while there is serious risk that they could be used to violate international humanitarian law.
The agency said the widespread killing of civilians and destruction of civilian infrastructure over the past six weeks is the worst it has seen in 20 years of working in Gaza. More than 1,500 civilians in Gaza – including more than 480 children – and three civilians in Israel have been killed so far, and it is estimated that billions of dollars of damage has been caused to vital water, sanitation, health services and homes in Gaza.
The latest escalation in fighting is the sixth time in the past six weeks that a temporary ceasefire has ended without both sides agreeing to a lasting resolution, and has led to more civilian casualties in Gaza in the past 24 hours. Nishant Pandey, head of Oxfam in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, said: “Now more than ever, the international community should exert maximum diplomatic pressure, including suspending arms and ammunitions transfers, to show that the world will not tolerate the violence and civilian suffering for a moment longer.“
Violations of international law
States and peoples have the legitimate right to use arms for the protection of their citizens against external attack, but only on the condition that their use of force complies with the principles of necessity and proportionality, as well as with international humanitarian and human rights law. The conduct of both the Government of Israel and of Palestinian armed groups raises numerous concerns of violations of international law.
Oxfam is a staunch believer in and long time campaigner for the Arms Trade Treaty—signed by 118 states—which requires the prohibition of arms transfers where the supplier has knowledge that the arms will be used to commit “attacks on civilian objects or civilians.”
“This humanitarian crisis is being fuelled by weapons. Suspending arms and ammunition transfers is vital to ensure no more civilians are harmed. This conflict cannot be resolved militarily. Civilians on both sides deserve an enduring ceasefire and a credible, inclusive peace process,” Pandey said.
Notes to editors
Israel voted in favour of adopting the Arms Trade Treaty. Palestine, as a non-member observer of the UN, is not eligible to vote, although it participated in the negotiation of the Treaty.
ALUN MCDONALD, Media and Communications Coordinator
Oxfam | Jerusalem | Occupied Palestinian Territory & Israel
+972546395002 (Jerusalem) +972592992208 (West Bank and Gaza)
Skype: alunmcdonald | Twitter: @alunmcdonald