There is a crisis in Yemen. Seventeen million people are in a dire situation within the country, horrifying statistics show three quarters of the Yemeni population are facing starvation. In September 2017 alone, more than 100,000 cases of cholera were reported in the country. The conflict, which has been going on since 2015, has a civilian death toll of more than 10,000.
Since the conflict in Yemen started, Human Rights Watch have found ten airstrikes that appear to have violated international humanitarian law. Over 300 civilians were the victims of these airstrikes, conducted by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition. Other groups have also reported attacks on civilian targets, including Médecins Sans Frontières, who have stated that three of their health facilities have come under attack.
Saudi Arabia has purchased UK manufactured Typhoon and Tornado aircrafts which have flown combat missions in the current conflict in Yemen.
These aircraft are manufactured in the UK by BAE Systems (BAE), a company that also supplies surveillance equipment to authoritarian states in the Middle East. In 2016, the University of Southampton signed a ‘strategic framework agreement’ with BAE in order to ‘strengthen the long-term relationship’ between them.
Weapons manufacturers like BAE are complicit in the human rights violations taking place in Yemen, and the many other countries which are reportedly engaged in ‘widespread and systematic’ attacks on civilians. Regardless of this, the University has invited BAE to attend their careers fairs this week. These events are advertised across campus and many students attend, eager for graduate jobs. BAE is hiring graduates in roles that include developing munitions and designing new technologies to further the harm already being done all over the world. It is not just in Southampton that BAE are recruiting, they will be visiting careers fairs elsewhere in the country.
BAE are recruiting on campus at the same time as they profit from war overseas, and our university appears to have no issue with this. Other universities, on the other hand, have taken action: in 2013, Goldsmiths University banned all arms companies from their campus.
Do we really want our university to work with a weapons manufacturer who say that selling weapons ‘encourages peace’? Do we want our alumni to go to work making weapons that kill innocent civilians, and prevent aid getting to areas that need it most?
Our university is collaborating with arms dealers, people who are currently profiting from the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and authoritarian states elsewhere in the world.
I find that unacceptable and if you do too then sign the petition here.