UK Investigates Alleged Saudi Humanitarian Breaches
(Source: British Forces News; issued Feb 23, 2017)
The Ministry of Defence is tracking 257 alleged breaches of humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has said.

Ministers have also confirmed that UK-built and licensed Typhoon and Tornado aircraft have been used in combat missions during the Saudi campaign.

The government has faced repeated calls to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia after alleged human rights abuses.

The UK has continued to allow sales, with more than £3.3 billion of arms licensed since the bombing began in March 2015.

The information was revealed in two answers from ministers to written parliamentary questions.

Responding to a question from the SNP's Margaret Ferrier, Sir Michael said:

"The Ministry of Defence [MoD] is tracking 257 allegations of breaches of international humanitarian law [IHL] by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen."

He declined her request to release reports into each allegation, saying: "Details of the MoD's analysis of these allegations are necessarily confidential."

The government has been accused in the High Court of unlawfully failing to suspend the sale of UK arms to Saudi Arabia, despite evidence that the Gulf state is guilty of "repeated and serious breaches" of international humanitarian law.

The accusation is being made before two judges in London by the Campaign Against Arms Trade.

In reply to a parliamentary question from Labour MP Julie Elliott, defence minister Harriett Baldwin said:

"UK-built and licensed Typhoon and Tornado aircraft from the Royal Saudi Air Force [RSAF] have been deployed on combat missions in the Yemen campaign."

The MoD has previously confirmed that UK-supplied cluster bombs have been used by Saudi-led forces in the war.

Some 500 cluster munitions were delivered from the UK to Saudi Arabia between 1986 and 1989.

Britain has now signed an international treaty banning their use.

The UN estimates that up to 10,000 people have died in Yemen since war began in March 2015.

Some 18.8 million people, or more than two-thirds of the population, are said to need humanitarian aid as a result of the conflict. About 10 million are "acutely affected".


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