British support for Saudi Arabia wrecking aid to Yemen

The Telegraph reports: David Cameron has been accused of squandering nearly £400 million in taxpayers’ aid to Yemen through its support for the Saudi-led military offensive in the country’s civil war.

The Prime Minister is facing an outcry from aid agencies and a rift in his own government over his continued backing for Saudi Arabia’s role in the conflict, in which nearly 6,000 people have died.

Britain has not only sold Saudi Arabia weapons that have allegedly been used for indiscriminate bombing, but also supports Riyadh diplomatically, despite claims by aid agencies that Saudi forces are making the situation worse.

Ahead of United Nations-sponsored peace talks this week aimed at ending nine months of fighting, senior Tory figures have warned that the Government’s policy has also wrecked more than a decade’s worth of British aid spending in Yemen, where the UK is one of the main donors.

The Department for International Development has spent some £227 million in Yemen in the past five years alone. It spent almost as much there in the decade after the 9/11 attacks, when Yemen was first identified as a failing state.

That entire programme is now in disarray as the civil war has led to the collapse of the government, left more than two million people homeless and pushed the country to the brink of famine. The fighting has even led to British-funded aid projects being directly targeted.

An air strike by the Saudi-led coalition hit a relief warehouse run by Oxfam, while the Save the Children has had two of its bases destroyed. Both charities’ aid efforts in Yemen are funded in part by DFID. Clinics operated by the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres have also been destroyed.

The chaos is also helping jihadists from al-Qaeda and the Islamic State cement their foothold – the very outcome Britain lavished aid on Yemen to avoid. [Continue reading…]

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