Dear Members and Supporters,
This month, the Newsletter starts with links to two commentaries, by experts, on the situation in Ethiopia. Trouble erupted in the Tigray region, in November 2020, and worrying reports have emerged recently from Amnesty International, and other organisations, about the number of deaths during the fighting and the exodus towards the border with Sudan.
2. The 2020 Airwars Report
We are also taking the opportunity to link you to the monitoring and advocacy work done in the Middle East by a UK based group called Airwars. A link to their 2020 report is included. It provides not only a narrative about the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Libya, last year, but is also an invaluable source of data on bombing and casualties in those countries.
3. Two UK Campaigns
We have been approached by two organisations that have recently launched campaigns that need support.
i) The #End the Nightmare campaign by The Refugee Council
It will come as no surprise that during the Covid crisis, attention has shifted away from anything other than the roll out of the vaccines. The Refugee Council aims to remind the UK Government that, even in times of pandemic, asylum seekers need essential clothing, education, access to medical care (not least, Covid-19 vaccines) as well as mobile phones in order to access support.
ii) The Stop the War Coalition Petition.
This petition was launched following President Biden’s suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia in an attempt to stop their use in the conflict in Yemen. The petition aims to encourage the UK Government to follow suit.
Finally, a thank you to those who have made donations to UAI in the UK. You should have received an email recently about a job vacancy for a part-time Communications Officer. This is part of our strategy to improve communications with members and with like-minded groups.
The Committee of UAI in the UK
6 March 2021
The podcast is an Apple Podcast and more episodes of The Horn, concerning that region of Africa, can be accessed through the link too.
Click below to listen to the podcast about Tigray.
Airwars is a not-for-profit, ‘transparency’ organisation formed in 2014 and based in London. It monitors air attacks and civilian harm, principally in Iraq, Syria and Libya and uses the data to support important advocacy work. Click on https://airwars.org/ to visit their website.
As an illustration of the scope of their work, we have included a link to their 2020 report on the countries that they monitor. Please contact them directly if you are interested in more data from these conflict zones.
The Covid pandemic has made life for asylum seekers even more difficult than before by cutting them off from welfare, educational and medical support. While most of the population have been told to avoid gatherings of large groups, asylum seekers have been confined in over-crowded and unsuitable accommodation. At a Parliamentary Committee, last month, there was astonishment when told that there had been 197 cases of Covid-19 amongst asylum seekers housed at the Napier Barracks in Kent in the year to February. This figure represents over 50% of those held there.
The war in Yemen began in 2015 and the blockading of major towns and the damage to infrastructure has left the civilian population, and children, in particular, on the brink of starvation. Armaments sold to Saudi Arabia by the UK, US and others are being used to prosecute the war.
The recent announcement, by President Biden, of the suspension of sales to Saudi Arabia of arms being used in Yemen, offers an opportunity for the UK Government to follow suit. The Stop the War Coalition hopes that the petition will show the weight of public support for an end to arms sales to Saudi Arabia.