RIYADH (Dispatches) – The member states of the Group of 20 (G20) have sold more than $17bn worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia since it launched a devastating war in Yemen in 2015, Oxfam said.
In a report released on Tuesday, the charity organization said the figure was three times more than what the G20 members have given to Yemen as humanitarian aid.
The report was released as G20 leaders prepare to meet virtually this week for a summit hosted by Saudi Arabia.
While some European nations have halted arms sales to Riyadh after it launched a military campaign in Yemen – which the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis – many G20 members have continued to supply it with arms.
Saudi Arabia launched a devastating military aggression against Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with a number of its allied states, and with arms support from the U.S. and several Western countries.
The aim was to return to power a Riyadh-backed former regime and defeat the Houthi Ansarullah movement that has taken control of state matters.
The war has failed to achieve its goals, but killed tens of thousands of innocent Yemenis and destroyed the impoverished country’s infrastructure. The UN refers to the situation in Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a defense think-tank, Saudi Arabia was the world’s top arms importer between 2014 and 2018, spending $16.9bn on weapons, with at least $4.9bn of that amount spent on European arms.
Oxfam’s Awssan Kamal said it is "shocking to see that level of business happening” as Yemen enters its sixth year of conflict, with 80 percent of the impoverished country’s 30 million people in need of help.
"As we work … to respond to the coronavirus, we’re seeing a dramatic drop in the humanitarian funding levels,” Kamal told Al Jazeera.
"We need to call on world leaders today to take responsibility, use the momentum of the G20 this week to ensure that there are sufficient talks around the humanitarian funding.”
Rights groups have criticized the Saudi-led coalition for air raids that have killed civilians at hospitals, schools and markets, and urged the Western governments to halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia and its allies in the stalemated conflict.
According to Oxfam, there has been "one air raid every ten days” on hospitals, clinics, wells and water tanks during the war.
"The arrival of coronavirus has only worsened these dire circumstances. And yet the United Nations’ response plan to get clean water, food and medical care to the most vulnerable is only 44 percent funded this year,” the charity group said.
Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has praised countries that have adopted measures to halt arms sales to the "child-killer” regime in Saudi Arabia, calling on other world states to follow suit.
"We express our appreciation to the countries that have taken steps to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, which is a child-killer regime,” the Ansarullah spokesman, Mohammed Abdul-Salam, said in a statement on Monday evening, referring to the Riyadh regime’s crimes against Yemeni children.
He called on other world states to adopt similar steps, emphasizing that freezing such exports to the kingdom is the least humanitarian position that could be taken in the face of the brutal Saudi-led aggression against Yemen, which poses threats to global security and stability.
The comments come as Germany is set to discuss extending its ban on arms exports to the countries involved in the war on Yemen in the coming weeks ahead of its expiry on December 31.