UK weapons companies have made £6 billion since Saudi Arabia started bombing Yemen

British arms companies have earned over £6 billion from their trade with Saudi Arabia during the ongoing war in Yemen, new research has found.

War Child UK claimed the true revenue from dealings with the Gulf state are almost double previous estimates, despite only around £30 million going to the public through corporation tax receipts.

The charity accused manufacturers including BAE Systems and Raytheon of ‘profiteering from the deaths of innocent children’ by selling missiles and equipment to the Saudi-led coalition.

Rocco Blume, an advisor at War Child, said Britain is not only providing arms to Saudi forces but maintaining them as well.

The estimated revenue from ongoing support pushed the estimated revenue far above the £3.6 billion figure announced by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade last week.

Michael Fallon said the UK secured defence orders totalling £5.9 billion in 2016 and is already the world’s second-largest weapons exporter.

But War Child said there was a disparity between the economic benefit to the British public versus the profit for private firms inside the arms industry, which is estimated at almost £600 million.

It found that an estimated tax revenue of 45 pence per head was ‘dwarfed’ by pay and bonuses, as well as the amount spent by the government on aid to Yemen.

The government has been repeatedly forced to defend the trade amid evidence of war crimes and civilian deaths in Yemen. In two years of civil war there, an estimated 1,300 children have been killed and 2,000 more injured, with 212 schools attacked and medical facilities destroyed and millions at the risk of famine and cholera.

MPs and humanitarian organisations have called on the government to end arms sales to Riyadh, but it won a legal challenge mounted by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade in July.

The High Court ruled that the trade did not break the law because there was no evidence of the Saudi-led coalition deliberately targeting civilians, while it investigates alleged civilian casualties.

The government has publicly restated its support for Saudi Arabia’s role in Yemen, saying it is supporting President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi against Houthi rebels and forces loyal to the former president.

But Rob Williams, the CEO of War Child UK, said it was ‘morally repugnant that the UK government is allowing companies to make killer profits from the deaths of innocent children’.

He said: “Thousands of children have died and millions more are at risk. The British government is shamefully complicit in their suffering and justifies it with promises of economic prosperity, which this report embarrassingly discredits.”

A spokesperson for the Department for International Trade said: “The UK government takes its defence export responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world.

“We rigorously examine every application on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.”

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