News in brief

En garde

In late February, hundreds of French police in riot gear, equipped with bulldozers, helicopters and drones, evicted dozens of occupiers from a proposed burial site for France’s civil and military nuclear waste. The protest camp in the Bois Lejuc, north-eastern France, had been set up 18 months ago on the spot planned for ventilation shafts.

Police also surrounded and forced their way into ‘the House of Resistance’ in nearby Bure, where local opposition to the planned waste dump has been based for more than 20 years. They removed all the occupants, arresting some and searching the premises.

The raid followed a humiliating defeat for the French government over the proposed airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes in western France, near the city of Nantes (which already has an airport).

On 17 January, French prime minister Edouard Philippe said it was impossible to continue with the plans for the airport given the ‘climate of bitter opposition between two sides of the population that are nearly equal in size.’

The climbdown came 10 years after plans were first announced. However, Philippe also promised to evict the community occupying the site, known as ‘la ZAD’ (despite a massive failure in 2012)

On the web

Would you like to think more deeply about ‘How Social Change Happens’? Global climate action group,, has created new online ‘skill-ups’ (rather than ‘classes’) for campaigners.

As well as the valuable ‘Having Climate Change Conversations’ and a guide to divestment campaigning, sections include ‘How Social Movements Win’ and ‘Advanced Campaigning Lessons’ using real-life examples.

US course designer Daniel Hunter wanted to avoid the situation where ‘The student who gets the right answers is the one who can repeat back what the teacher taught.’ Activist education, he writes, needs people who think for themselves and who ‘use the culture and language of those around them for justice.’

On the edge

The activist-led grant-making body, the Edge Fund (PN 2546), is appealing for financial support. Annual income has fallen from over £220,000 to less than £50,000 last year. In the last five years, the group has supported over 200 groups, including Peace News Summer Camp.

In the last round, grants included: Highlands Against Nuclear Transport, Scotland (£500); Friends of Detainees, UK-wide (£3,000); African Rainbow Family (by and for LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees), Manchester (£3,000); Disabled Survivors Unite, UK-wide (£3,000); South Asian Sisters Speak (£1,000). More info:

No Summer Camp this year!

This year, for the first time in nearly a decade, there will not be a Peace News Summer Camp!

The organising group have decided that they needed a break after nine camps in nine years, so this will be a fallow year. However, there may be a social get-together over the usual weekend at the end of July for folk who’ve been to camp previously. No workshops, just camping together.

Peace News Summer Camp has been bringing together the British grassroots and direct action peace movement since 2009.

Info on past years:

The Saudi war

500 protesters gathered opposite Downing Street on 7 March to protest against the visit of Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, the architect of the Saudi-led war on Yemen.

While in the UK, the prince agreed with British prime minister Theresa May to aim for £65bn of mutual trade and investment. This included a Saudi decision in principle to buy 48 Eurofighter Typhoon jets from BAE Systems in a deal worth over £10bn.

In the US, senators (both Republican and Democrat) put forward a motion on 20 March that would have withdrawn the US military from refuelling and intelligence support to the Saudi war in Yemen. The motion was defeated by only 11 votes (55 to 44).

Meanwhile, the Saudi assault on Yemen entered its fourth year, with cholera and starvation continuing to spread in what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. One million cases of cholera have been reported so far.

‘After three years of conflict, conditions in Yemen are catastrophic,’ the operations director for the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs (OCHA), John Ging, told the UN security council on 27 February.

On 25 March, UNICEF appealed for $350m for Yemen’s 11 million hungry children. Geert Cappelaere, Middle East and North Africa director at the UN children’s fund, said: ‘every single girl or boy in Yemen is facing acute humanitarian needs’. He warned that the health and education systems in Yemen were on the verge of total collapse.

In February, food shipments into the crucial Yemeni port of Hodeidah were the lowest since 2016, only half the monthly national requirement, according to OCHA. Fuel imports were a quarter of what was needed.

The Saudi-led coalition officially lifted its blockade of Hodeidah in December, but still holds up ships entering the harbour using a lengthy and complicated inspection process, supposedly to spot arms.

Suze van Meegen of the Norwegian Refugee Council told AFP in late March: ‘The de facto blockade is still in place.’

In January, after two years of stalling, the Saudis finally allowed four small US-bought mobile cranes to enter Hodeidah to ‘replace’ four giant cranes destroyed by Saudi airstrikes in 2015.

Saudi airstrikes (using British aircraft and British bombs) continue. On 22 March, a strike reportedly killed 10 civilians, including women and children, in the northern province of Saada.

Since the Saudi campaign in Yemen began, 6,100 civilian conflict deaths have been documented by OCHA, over half of them due to Saudi airstrikes.

On 22 March, a senior OCHA official, Kate Gilmore, reported that the number of civilian casualties had dramatically increased during the past six months, peaking in December 2017 with 714 civilian casualties.

In the air

This March saw the fifth annual ‘Fly Kites, Not Drones’ week of action in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, with kite-flying in Aberdeen and Edinburgh in Scotland; and many events in England: at the drones base, RAF Waddington, in Lincolnshire; in Yorkshire at the spy base at Menwith Hill, and in Bradford, Harrogate and Huddersfield; in Hastings, East Sussex; and in Leicester, London and Leintwardine.

Fly Kites Not Drones is a joint effort from Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK, the Drone Campaign Network, Pax Christi UK and Quaker Peace & Social Witness:

On the page

Would you be willing to draw a page of stick figures? Do you have access to a scanner and email?

Artist Gee Vaucher, known for her work for the anarcho-pacifist punk band Crass, is creating a book to commemorate those who died in the First World War. She wants 20 million stick figures.

All figures must be hand-drawn in black on white A4, all fitting on the page. Please scan your page greyscale, 300 dpi, and save as jpg or pdf. The file title should be the number of figures on your sheet. Email to:

Against the wall

INNATE, a nonviolence network in Ireland, has available a set of over 100 A4 posters on a wide variety of topics, including: children and conflict; conflict; dealing with the past; gender issues; green issues including climate change; human rights and equality; Irish historical; militarism including war and armaments; nonviolence; Northern Ireland; nuclear power; women and peace; peace; power; and religion.

Some are explicitly Irish but the majority are universal. Most require a colour printer.

INNATE, an Irish Network for Nonviolent Action Training and Education, is based partly in Belfast but works on both sides of the border in Ireland.

All at sea

On 21 March, the European Union commission announced that it still wants to apply an EU-Morocco fisheries agreement to the waters of Western Sahara, despite two EU court of justice rulings that this would be illegal.

On 27 February, the court of justice ruled that the fisheries agreement would only be legal if it was not applied to Western Sahara, which has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975. This was in line with a previous decision in December 2016 that no EU trade agreement could be applied to Western Sahara without the consent of the people of that territory.