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Press release


French weapons in Yemen: Urgent clarification required after new report

Sixteen humanitarian and human rights NGOs today urged the French government to publicly clarify its position on the use of French weapons in Yemen, after new reports on the participation of French-built warships in the blockade that significantly contributed to the worsening of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

Given the accumulation of reports regarding the risk of the use of French weapons against civilian populations in Yemen, the French authorities can no longer simply state that France has one of the strictest arms export systems in the world.

In its report released earlier this month, the UN Panel of Eminent Experts on Yemen believes that the maritime blockade imposed by the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Yemen could be described as “collective punishment”, in violation of international humanitarian law, and that the coalition may have used “hunger as a method of warfare”, which constitutes a war crime.

The open source survey conducted by Disclose, Arte, Mediapart, Radio France and Lighthouse provides visual evidence of the use of French-built Saudi frigates and Emirate corvettes for the apprehending of commercial vessels during the sea blockade. Frigates and corvettes, although sold before the war, are still subject to maintenance contracts under the licenses issued by the government. The investigation once again underlines the risk for France and its defence companies of being complicit in war crimes in Yemen.

In light of the legitimate concern expressed by public opinion regarding France’s involvement in the Yemen conflict, the signatory NGOs appeal to the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Armies and the Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs to publicly clarify their position on the presence of French armaments in Yemen and France’s compliance with its international obligations.

The signatory NGOs once again call on France to immediately suspend its arms transfers to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in view of the risk of complicity in grave violations, in line with the recommendations of the UN experts. Such a decision would be nothing new: since 2016, 12 European countries, including Germany, Belgium, Italy and the United Kingdom, have announced measures to suspend or limit their arms exports as a result of the conflict in Yemen.


Signatory NGOs :

  1. ACAT
  2. Action Agains Hunger
  3. AIDL
  4. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  5. CARE France
  6. FIDH
  7. Handicap International
  8. Human Rights Watch
  9. Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH)
  10. Médecins du Monde
  11. Observatoire des armements
  12. Oxfam France
  13. Première Urgence Internationale
  14. Sherpa
  15. SumOfUs
  16. Yemen Solidarity Network


Press Contacts

Bénédicte Jeannerod, Human Rights Watch,, +33 6 74 32 88 94

Sophie Gaguin, Handicap International,, +33660970938

Maryna Chebat, Action Against Hunger,, +33 6 49 10 83 65

Jon Cerezo, Oxfam,, +33 6 51 15 54 38

Insaf Rezagui, Médecins du Monde,, +33 6 09 17 35 59

Leslie Piquemal, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies,, +32474508271

Jean Javogues, Première Urgence Internationale,, + 33 7 83 42 57 19

Laury-Anne Bellessa, CARE France,, +33 7 86 00 42 75


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