UK calls for Yemen war investigation

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LONDON: Britain, a key supporter of Saudi Arabia’s war against neighbouring Yemen, Thursday called for a proper investigation into the role of its in Yemen campaign.
Foreign Minister Philip Hammond noted that the UK would halt weapons exports to Saudi Arabia if the investigation found Riyadh had breached international humanitarian law in the war in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia has since March led a military campaign to restore the government of the fugitive president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
Amnesty International has asked the United Nations to investigate allegations that humanitarian law has been broken during the war. According to the UN more than 5,600 people have been killed in the Yemen mostly women and children.
“The Saudis deny that there have been any breaches … (but) we need to see proper investigations,”Hammond said.
“We need to work with the Saudis to establish that international humanitarian law has been complied with. We have an export licensing system that responds if we find that it is not. We will then find that we cannot licence additional shipments of weapons,” he added.
The statements are made as according to a 2013 UK parliamentary report, Britain granted nearly 4 billion pounds ($6.06 billion) of export licences for arms to Saudi Arabia in the five prior years.
Amnesty has said the vast majority of civilian casualties in Yemen have been caused by the Saudi-led coalition and accused the Arab forces of using cluster bombs, which are banned by most countries.
The Saudi-led coalition denies targeting civilians. Hammond said he was aware that British-supplied weapons were being used by the Saudis in Yemen.
“What matters is that they are used legally in compliance with international humanitarian law and we monitor that very carefully,” he told.
He said he had raised the issue of the use of weapons in Yemen during a recent visit to Saudi Arabia.

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