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  • A Houthi militant walks through a government compound following Saudi-led air strikes, in the northwestern city of Amran in July 2015.

    A Houthi militant walks through a government compound following Saudi-led air strikes, in the northwestern city of Amran in July 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 February 2019

British arms sales to Saudi Arabia, worth about US$6 billion, are causing “significant civilian casualties” in Yemen, a parliamentary report stated.

A British parliamentary committee concluded in a report issued Friday that British arms exports to Saudi Arabia violate international humanitarian law and called on the United Kingdom’s government to actively work to end the war in Yemen.

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The report states that British arms sales to Saudi Arabia, worth about US$6 billion, are causing “significant civilian casualties” in Yemen and are in all likelihood illegal. The parliamentary report also called for the U.K. to “Provide greater support to the United Nations’ secretary general for Yemen and throw its weight behind the UN peace process,” British newspaper The Independent reported.

The House of Lords International Relations Committee described the situation as “unconscionable” and said Prime Minister Theresa May must ease up on weapons sales to Saudi Arabia “as a matter of urgency.”

“We do not agree with the government’s assertion that it is narrowly on the right side of international humanitarian law in the case of licensing arms exports to the Saudi-led coalition,” said Conservative chairman, Lord Howell.

For years, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has demanded an arms sales ban to Saudi Arabia, noting that “Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and others” have already done so.

However, ministers have said that exports are assessed “against strict criteria” and stopped if “there is a clear risk that the items might be used in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law.”

The Saudi-led war against Yemen began in 2015 after Houthi rebels seized control of the capital, Sanaa, and began claiming territory in the south toward Aden, Yemen’s second-largest city. The conflict and the ensuing economic collapse have left 15.9 million people, 53 percent of the population, struggling to survive amid scarcity and famine.

In November 2018 alone, nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the war and the harsh conditions surrounding it. Since January 2016, around 60,110 people have been killed, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

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