UK sells armoured vehicles to Ethiopia, despite Eritrea tensions
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has questioned the Foreign Office on UK arms sales to Ethiopia, as fighting flares on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Between the beginning of 2008 and September 2011, the UK licensed military and dual use equipment for export to Ethiopia to the value of over £1.2 million - with military comprising half of the value.
CAAT is especially concerned about the £243,000 for "military vehicles" and "components for military vehicles", licensed in March 2011. Such vehicles might be used in the arid border areas where fighting has taken place.
Other items relate to small arms and communications equipment. In August 2010 the UK approved export licences for "components for simulators for small calibre artillery" of £161,000. In June 2009 a licence was issued for export of "components for ground military communications equipment", for £43,000 and in February 2009 for "ground military communications equipment" and "military communications equipment", together totaling £106,000.
CAAT has asked the UK government if UK equipment has been used in the recent incursions and is calling on the UK government to suspend extant licences to Ethiopia and to use the new powers of suspending the export licensing process.
Kaye Stearman, spokesperson for CAAT said:
"It is disturbing that the UK is licensing armoured vehicles to Ethiopia, a country where poverty is rife and a previous conflict with Eritrea resulted in the deaths of thousands of conscript soldiers and civilians on both sides. We urge the Foreign Office to suspend any licences pending and to suspend the export licensing process to Ethiopia while the conflict continues."
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade. The arms business has a devastating impact on human rights and society and damages economic development. Large-scale military procurement and arms exports only reinforce a militaristic approach to international problems. Around 75% of CAAT's income is raised from individual supporters.
The data for arms export licences for Ethiopia can be found via CAAT's export licence app.
CAAT believes that the export of weapons to Ethiopia breaks at least three of the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export licensing criteria, which the UK has agreed to abide by. These are:
Criterion 3 - The internal situation in the country of final destination, as a function of the existence of tensions or armed conflicts. Both Ethiopia and Eritrea have been accused of sheltering political opponents, including armed opposition groups, organising against each other; in the case of Ethiopia in the borderlands that it continues to occupy although the area has been awarded to Eritrea by the international Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission. The government of Ethiopia has also used military force in the Ogaden region and to repress political dissent, most notably in the capital and in Oromia state.
Criterion 4 - Preservation of regional peace, security and stability. In 1998-2000 Ethiopia and Eritrea fought over disputed border territory in a war which cost tens of thousands of lives on both sides. Continuing tensions along the Ethiopia-Eritrea border have been exacerbated by a military presence.
Criterion 8 - The compatibility of the arms exports with the technical and economic capacity of the recipient country, taking into account the desirability that states should achieve their legitimate needs of security and defence with the least diversion for armaments of human and economic resources. Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world. High military spending diverts resources better spent on urgent social needs, such as health, education and welfare.
4. The UK does not export military equipment to Eritrea; it has licensed dual use goods to the value of £44 since 2008.