NOW two years into the conflict which has ripped the country apart, the crisis in the Yemen passed yet another grim milestone this week.

It has been reported that since the outbreak began in April, more than 300,000 Yemenis have contracted cholera. Around 2000 men, women and children have died in the past three months, with this number set to rise even further over the hot summer ahead. Data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that more people have died from cholera in Yemen in the past four months alone than perished from the disease worldwide in 2015.

The tragedy is that cholera is eminently preventable. WHO surveys showed no reported cases of cholera in Yemen a decade ago. It’s spread when faeces get into food and water, and so clean water, modern sanitation and effective healthcare are all essential in its prevention. That’s why the advancement in public health across the globe has made such a difference in tackling this disease.

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What has changed for the people of Yemen is that this disease has been weaponised by the ongoing conflict. I’ve previously written about the devastating humanitarian crisis in the country, where seven million people remain on the brink of starvation, while more than two million nursery-aged children are acutely malnourished, including half a million whose health is in critical danger. In addition to the cholera crisis, the ongoing measles epidemic is also claiming an increasing number of victims.

This horrific situation is not a by-product of the war — it is an intrinsic part of the conflict.

This is because hospitals, schools and water treatment plants have been bombed to destruction. Civilians have been warned to leave Saada and Maaran by Saudi forces because these whole towns would be bombed indiscriminately. The country’s ports, essential to a population relying heavily on imports for food and medicine, have been blockaded. A harrowing report from an aid worker in Sana’a this week described so much raw sewage on the streets of the city that it was almost impossible to breathe from the overpowering stench.

It is a deliberate and calculated strategy perpetrated by both sides. Both the Houthi rebel forces and the Saudi-led forces have breached international humanitarian law over the past two years. There are no “good guys” and “bad guys” in this tale of destruction and death.

It’s in this horrendous context that Monday’s High Court judgment — that continuing British arms sales to Saudi Arabia are legal — is so grating. Since the conflict began in March 2015, the UK has sold £3.3 billion worth of arms to the regime in Saudi Arabia. This includes £1.1bn worth of bombs, missiles and other explosives alone. This is a staggering amount of weaponry.

The key background facts are also undisputed by the UK Government. After a concerted campaign both inside and outside parliament, the Ministry of Defence eventually conceded last year that a “limited number” of cluster bombs previously manufactured in the UK, which are now rightly banned under international law, have been used in the present war. The high court has heard that the MoD, which has forces embedded in the command and control centres of the Saudi armed forces, keeps its own records of the illegal incidents carried out in Yemen, and to date has recorded 41 separate occasions on which Saudi-led forces appear to them to have breached international law.

The UK’s senior civil servant in the Export Control Organisation, which regulates the foreign sales of arms made in the UK, had recommended that these arms sales should stop.

But despite these stark facts, and the certainty that the continued support of the UK government and others threatens the lives of Yemeni civilians each day, the court decided that past action could be discounted if our government could reasonably conclude that the record of the Saudi forces in engaging civilian targets would improve in future. They may have been bad in the past, but they’ve promised to be better in future.

This conclusion surely flies in the face of reason and all available evidence.

It seems to so many to be a perversion of justice, which endangers the lives of millions. I wish the campaigners from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade well in their appeal.

Notwithstanding this legal judgment, the UK should stop all arms sales to Saudi Arabia now. Fuelling this ongoing conflict in the full knowledge that our allies are directly contributing to the greatest humanitarian disaster in the world today is repugnant and wrong. It is a morally indefensible act.

Given the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Yemen, and the role that Saudi forces have played in this, it is absolutely wrong that we continue to sell them arms.

Without calling a halt to this madness now, Theresa May and her government continue to put profits before the lives of civilians. Shame on them.