(Ottawa) Four years have passed since the beginning of a bloody war in Yemen. The war has plunged the country into what the UN calls ‘the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.’ On the eve of this tragic anniversary, Oxfam is mobilizing Canadians to call on the government to finally cancel its arms deal with one of the parties involved in the conflict – the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Canadians can go to our website to email the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, to express their support for cancelling the arms deal.
Canada continues to export light armoured vehicles (LAVs) to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, despite repeated calls from Oxfam and other civil society organizations to end the arms deal with Saudi Arabia1, and credible evidence that LAVs have been used in the conflict in Yemen. It is incoherent to focus on women through humanitarian assistance while fuelling a war that disproportionately harms them.
“All warring parties, including the Saudi-led coalition, have violated international humanitarian law,” said Brittany Lambert, Women’s Rights Policy & Advocacy Specialist at Oxfam Canada.
“No country should be directly or indirectly supplying weapons, munitions, military equipment or technology that could be used in the conflict until the violations stop. Warring parties on all sides bear responsibility for exacerbating the dire humanitarian situation. After 4 long years of suffering, we must all work together to bring Yemeni families peace – not more war.”
In December 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Canadians that his government was looking for ways “to stop exporting these vehicles to Saudi Arabia.” Unfortunately, there has been no follow-up on this issue since.
As the Canadian government makes its decision, the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate. According to a recent UN report, approximately 70,000 Yemenis have died since the beginning of 2016. At the moment, three civilians are killed every day in Yemen – one person every eight hours. More than 10 million people are on the brink of starvation and 18 million people do not know when their next meal will be. This food crisis could get worse in the coming months, as the price of food continues to skyrocket. In fact, it has increased by a third over the last year.
Women and girls bear the brunt of this devastating situation. Desperation is pushing some hungry and isolated families to marry off their daughters, sometimes as young as three years old, to get food and try to save the rest of their family.
“Every day that passes without concrete progress towards peace, more Yemenis lose their lives and the suffering deepens for those struggling to find food and shelter amid the world’s worst humanitarian disaster,” Muhsin Siddiquey, Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director said.
“The backers of the warring parties are complicit in this crisis; we call on them to stop arming the belligerents. They and the rest of the international community need to do all they can to help bring about a lasting peace in Yemen.”
“With the support of Canadians, Oxfam hopes to remind the government of its obligations,” Lambert added. “A great democratic nation cannot prioritize trade and profits over respect for human life.”
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Notes to Editors:
- A letter was sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in early March by the following organizations: Action Against Hunger, Save the Children Canada, Amnesty International Canada (English Section), Amnesty International Canada (French Section), Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, Rideau Institute, The Group of 78, Doctors of the World Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Quebec and Project Plowshares.