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War in Yemen: Saudi responsibility, European complicity

Since 2015, the level of violence in Yemen has grown significantly. In March of this year, Saudi Arabia decided to head a military coalition to reinstate the government of Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Hadi’s government had been deposed months before by an armed Yemeni group known as the Houthis, which Riyadh accuses of being an Iranian proxy. Since then, the armed conflict has become even more complex with the involvement of additional actors and the projection of regional and international interests. The war has had devastating effects on the population: there have been thousands of civilian victims, and it has dragged the country into an enormous humanitarian crisis. In fact, it is currently seen as one of the world’s most serious current crises. Over the last five years, the United Nations and several humanitarian and human rights NGOs have constantly denounced the serious abuses committed by different actors as a result of the armed conflict in Yemen. In particular, they have criticized the international coalition led by Saudi Arabia for its role in extremely fatal attacks against Yemeni civilians. Despite this record, many European states, including Spain, have continued to sell arms to Saudi Arabia. This is an infringement of several international and European regulations, including the International Arms Trade Treaty.

This report by the Escola de Cultura de Pau, Centre Delàs d’Estudis per la Pau and Institut de Drets Humans de Catalunya analyses the dynamics of conflict in Yemen, the Saudi implication and its consequences; exposes the continuity of arms flows despite numerous denounces of abuses; and offers recommendations to European and the Spanish governments. The circumstances in Yemen require an urgent change of policy. Specific, categorical measures must be adopted to halt the sale and transfer of arms to Saudi Arabia, encourage the de-escalation of the violence, promote political solutions to the conflict, and provide immediate assistance for the country’s urgent humanitarian needs.

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