Skip to main content

UK Should Acknowledge Whole Story in Yemen

Houthi Abuses Don’t Negate Violations by Saudi-Led Coalition

People are seen near a bus destroyed by an airstrike that killed dozens of children, in a photograph taken on August 12, 2018 in Saada, Yemen. © 2018 Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images

Yesterday, I learned that Jeremy Hunt, the United Kingdom foreign secretary, had shared our investigation into Houthi landmine use in Yemen on Twitter.

We’ve covered this topic before, and most recently found that landmines weren’t just killing those who stepped on them – countless Yemenis are afraid to farm land and harvest vegetables, wheat, and other crops, knowing they risk stepping on a landmine. Mines are preventing Yemenis from accessing water wells and aid workers from reaching communities that are in desperate need.

Hunt highlighted our work to show that Yemen’s war, fought between the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and Yemen’s Houthi forces, needs a political solution. We’ve repeatedly decried the humanitarian crisis: Nearly 10 million Yemenis are one step away from famine. Cholera is surging. The destruction of infrastructure and the healthcare system’s near-collapse claims yet more lives. Even if the war ended tomorrow, development has been set back by nearly a generation.

Hunt shouldn’t just flag our research on Houthi landmine use, but also our reporting on laws-of-war violations by the Saudi-led coalition, which the UK backs. Indiscriminate coalition airstrikes have taken a devastating toll on markets, homes, and hospitals, killing and wounding thousands of civilians. Many of the coalition attacks may amount to war crimes. Hunt should confront potential UK complicity in those abuses and finally end the UK arms sales that help enable them.

For four years we have investigated potential war crimes by all sides in Yemen. My colleagues and I have visited bombing sites and interviewed victims, family members, and witnesses. We have examined the rubble of countless civilian structures, where we have uncovered evidence of weapons fragments, which our experts have analyzed. Some of those twisted metal fragments were found to have been made by a UK company and sold with the British government’s approval.

Jeremy Hunt’s search for a political solution to Yemen should not ignore the ongoing abuses by both sides. Critical to that is ending UK arms sales and pressing for accountability, and justice and redress for the civilians harmed.

Your tax deductible gift can help stop human rights violations and save lives around the world.