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New claims of war crimes in Yemen and child deaths

Human rights campaigners have urged Britain to stop the sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia after revealing new evidence of war crimes in Yemen.

Amnesty International found that airstrikes by a Saudi-led military campaign killed a 12-day-old baby, among scores of other children, as well as destroying schools.

The new findings came after The Ferret reported fears that missiles produced in Fife, Scotland, were fired from Saudi Arabian war planes at innocent people.

More than 2100 civilians, including at least 400 children, have been killed in Yemen’s civil war.

There are mounting claims of war crimes and the SNP has said it will question the UK government when Parliament returns this week.

Amnesty investigated 13 air strikes that killed around 100 civilians, including 59 children, in Sa’ Da.

Investigators said that in one airstrike on 13 June 2015 at a home in Dammaj valley in al-Safra, coalition forces killed eight children and two women from the same family.

“There were 19 people in the house when it was bombed. All but one were women and children. The children who would usually be outside during the day were in the house because it was lunchtime. They were all killed or injured. One of the dead was a 12-day-old baby,” said Abdullah Ahmed Yahya al-Sailami, whose one-year-old son was among the dead.

“This report uncovers yet more evidence of unlawful airstrikes carried out by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, some of which amount to war crimes. It demonstrates in harrowing detail how crucial it is to stop arms being used to commit serious violations of this kind,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser who headed the organization’s fact-finding mission to Yemen.

Patrick Grady MP, SNP Westminster spokesperson on International Development said: “The Arms Trade Treaty, which the UK signed up to, makes it clear that weapons should not be sold where there is a risk they will be used against civilians.

“This latest report from Amnesty International is very concerning, and when Parliament returns next week, I’ll be tabling questions to the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office to seek urgent clarity on the UK Government’s position and how it intends to respond to the report.”

Britain has supplied Paveway IV missiles to the Saudis who have been bombing Houthi rebels since March.

The 500 pound bombs are made by a US arms firm called Raytheon which has a factory in Glenrothes.

Raytheon employs 600 people and is a major contributor to the Fife economy.

But the Arms Trade Treaty, which came into force last December, prohibits the sale of weapons where there is a clear risk they could be used for war crimes.

The ferret subscribe narrow

A spokesman for Raytheon said: “Raytheon is a significant contributor to the economy through employing nearly 600 people in Glenrothes and through exporting £500m of advanced systems and technologies since 2002.

“The company has world leading capability in cutting edge micro electronics, which is driving efficiencies in commercial aviation and automotive markets, as well as others which have the potential to deliver great economic benefits.”

A UK government spokeswoman said: “UK military personnel are not directly involved in coalition operations in Yemen. The UK is supporting Saudi forces through pre-existing arrangements and additional liaison officers based in their headquarters.

“As part of this support, the UK operates one of the most rigorous and transparent export control regimes in the world, and all exports of arms and controlled military goods are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. We are aware of reports of alleged violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in Yemen by all sides to the conflict and take these very seriously. We have raised our concerns with members of the coalition and have received repeated assurances of IHL compliance, and continue to engage with them on those assurances.”

A version of this story was published by the Sunday Mail on 11th October 2015 –

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