Save the Children Australia CEO Paul Ronalds said:
“While we welcome Australia’s statement in calling out human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, one of the most egregious abuses, Saudi Arabia’s complicity in gross human rights violations in Yemen, has been completely ignored.
“It is hypocritical to say the least that while Government officials in Geneva are criticising Saudi Arabia for serious human rights abuses, we have been exporting Australian made weapons to Saudi Arabia.
“The UN has very clearly said that Saudi Arabia is complicit in human rights violations in Yemen and yet the Australian Government continues to allow the export of military assets.
“While the exact nature of Australia’s defence exports has long been shrouded in secrecy, Australians are entitled to ask: is it worth selling Saudi Arabia weapons if there is even a remote chance they will be used to abuse human rights of children either in Saudi Arabia or in Yemen.
“The war in Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis where civilians, including children, are dying at a horrifying rate. Australia is continuing to supply key combatants to the war in Yemen with military equipment, while other nations including the UK have stopped.
“I am horrified that Australia could be somehow complicit in this catastrophic war. It is unthinkable that our Government continues to allow defence exports to a country accused of war crimes, and it should stop immediately.”
More than 85,000 children have now died from the indirect effects of war – including starvation and disease – over four and a half years of the conflict.
Between January 2016 and May 2018 Australia approved at least 56 export licences to Australian defence exporters seeking to sell to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Throughout 2019, it’s Centenary year, Save the Children is calling on the Australian Government to do more to Stop the War on Children, including for the children of Yemen by ending the export of Australian made military assets to Saudi Arabia. To find out more go to www.stopthewaronchildren.org.au
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