Canada will provide $12-million to aid groups on the front lines of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where war has crippled the economy, left millions on the brink of famine and caused one of the most deadly cholera epidemics in modern history.
The announcement, to be made by International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau on Friday, comes even as Canada continues to benefit from the sale of light-armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have been widely accused of using famine as a weapon in neighbouring Yemen as they blockade shipments in service of the war they’re waging against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
Meanwhile, the Canadian government continues to provide new humanitarian funding to respond to the needs of conflict-affected Yemeni people. Friday’s announcement of $12.1-million in aid brings Canada’s total humanitarian assistance for Yemen to $65-million since March, 2017. A senior government official indicated more funding could be announced for the poor Middle Eastern country this year.
“Sadly, the conflict continues in Yemen, and its people – particularly women and children – continue to suffer greatly. Canada remains committed to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance support to our partners to help the Yemeni people,” Ms. Bibeau is expected to say in a statement on Friday.
Canada faces accusations, though, that it’s playing both sides of the conflict.
The Canadian government and Canadian industry profit from military sales to the Saudis – primarily through its $15-billion sale of weaponized armoured vehicles to Riyadh. A Canadian Crown corporation that brokered the deal gets an unspecified cut of the proceeds, as does General Dynamics Land Systems Canada, which makes them.
“However welcome and necessary aid to Yemen may be, it does not obscure Canada’s role as a key enabler of the Saudi regime,” said Cesar Jaramillo, executive director of Project Ploughshares.