Cluster munitions are banned under the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) because they cause “unacceptable harm” to civilians. But where are all the sanctions against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their allies in this bloody war in Yemen that has claimed almost 400,000 lives?
At the moment, all eyes are on Ukraine, where the Russian army is conducting a military operation. There are also civilian casualties there, although in recent years (since the Maidan coup in 2014 and the secession of the Donbass oblasts Donetsk and Luhansk) the world has studiously turned a blind eye to the thousands of civilian deaths in the contested region. But there is another war that has also been going on for years and has already claimed countless civilian lives: the Yemen war. There, the invaders, namely Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as the main players, are neither sanctioned nor ostracized. In fact, there is every reason to do so.
According to Ali Safra, director general of the Yemen Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC), since the war began in March 2015, the Saudi-led coalition has more than three million cluster bombs dropped in Yemen. At a ceremony in Sana’a to mark International Mine Action Day on April 5, Safra explained how cluster munitions were collected in 15 provinces and 70 counties in Yemen. The use of cluster bombs by the Saudi-led coalition resulted in 3,921 civilian deaths, including 119 children and 39 women, Safra said, while the number of wounded stood at 2,884 civilians, including 257 children and 76 women.
US arms exports to Saudi Arabia have increased by more than 100 percent since the Saudi-led coalition invaded Yemen in March 2015 (after a temporary stop were the deliveries resumed). The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a leading member of the Saudi-led coalition, was the eighth largest recipient of US arms during the period. one UN report By the end of 2021, the Saudi-led war in Yemen had killed around 377,000 people and brought almost half the country’s population to the brink of starvation due to the coalition-imposed naval blockade. Yemen’s economy is estimated to have lost $126 billion.
According to the report, most of the deaths – around 60 percent – are indirect consequences of the conflict, due to lack of clean water, food and the spread of diseases. Seven years of war had “catastrophic effects” on the country’s development, as access to health care was “limited or non-existent” and the indirect victims were mostly “children, who were particularly vulnerable to malnutrition,” the report said.
On April 1, UN officials announced that Saudi Arabia had agreed to lift the air and sea blockade against Yemen, allowing ships carrying fuel and supplies to the war-ravaged country to call at the port of Hodeidah. The agreement has been in effect since April 2, the beginning of the holy Islamic month of fasting, Ramadan. This agreement is the most important step in ending a conflict that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, millions displaced and caused one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time, according to the UN. A war that exposes the hypocrisy of the West. Because instead of sanctions against the main players, there are still arms deliveries and many dollars for oil.