South Africa's Arms Exports to Saudi Arabia and the UAE Fuel Yemen's Humanitarian Crisis


How is it possible that South Africa's National Conventional Arms Control Committee has approved the export of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates worth R7-billion since the start of the war in Yemen, while South Africa has repeatedly expressed its concern about the human suffering in Yemen?

Human rights have been described by many as irreplaceable principles (or the cornerstone) of democracy. In light of this, and in celebration of the International Day of Democracy (15 September), I would like to focus on the dire human rights situation in Yemen, to which South Africa and several other democratic countries have been contributing.

Humanitarian crisis

We know that Yemen has become the world's largest humanitarian crisis because of its ongoing civil war. A staggering 80% of the population (about 24 million) desperately need humanitarian help. An estimated 85,000 children had already starved to death between the start of the war in September 2014 and 2018.

After six years of armed conflict, more than 18,400 civilians had been killed. This country experiences the world's worst food security "with 20.1 million people - nearly two-thirds of the population - requiring food assistance at the beginning of 2020".

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