Clean water, not weapons, needed in Yemen


24 NOVEMBER, 2017 CLEAN WATER, NOT WEAPONS, NEEDED IN YEMEN   Health professionals today called on the Australian government to take urgent action in response to the deepening humanitarian crisis in Yemen, rather than selling weapons to the Saudi government that is leading the bombing of this impoverished country.  Saudi Arabia is also leading the naval blockade that is drastically reducing availability of food, clean water and medical supplies.   The President of the Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia), Dr Sue Wareham, said, “It is unconscionable that Australia continues to actively arm a government that has such an appalling record of past and current human rights abuses. Australia should be pouring in food and other supplies to bring relief to the people, and should also be putting maximum pressure on the Saudi government to stop their assault on innocent people.  Instead we are profiteering from the conflict.”    The UNHCR estimates that over 20 million Yemenis are now in need of aid, with over 2 million people displaced.  Malnutrition is rife and cholera rages due to destruction of sewerage and water treatment facilities.   In April, Human Rights Watch called on the Australian government to suspend military sales to Saudi Arabia.   On 21 June the Australian Senate passed a motion calling for disclosure of the nature of the sales. Both calls were ignored by the government.  It is virtually impossible to find out exactly what weapons are being sold to Saudi Arabia because such sales are labelled “commercial-in-confidence” and lack all transparency.   “Australians are told that our weapons exports are subject to strict controls, but when the bombing of civilians is not regarded as a barrier to receiving our weapons, then any controls appear to be illusory”, Dr Wareham said.   Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne has visited the Saudi kingdom to spruik Australia’s weapons. Photos of him shaking hands with Saudi officials are reminiscent of those of Donald Rumsfeld, then US Special Envoy to the Middle East, shaking hands with Saddam Hussein in 1983.   FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OR INTERVIEW PLEASE CONTACT:
Dr Sue Wareham, MAPW President, 0407 924 152 or 02 6253 1117; or Dr Margaret Beavis, MAPW Immediate Past President, 0401 99 5699