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Most Britons Oppose Saudi Arabia Arms Sales, MPs Call Emergency Debate

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Local Editor

British MPs are to hold an emergency debate on the desperate situation of civilians in Yemen, as a new poll suggested a majority of Britons opposed arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

The kingdom is the British government’s largest arms customer, with the UK licensing more than £4.6bn worth of arms to the country since the beginning of its bombing campaign in Yemen in March 2015, according to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade [CAAT].

A poll by YouGov for Save the Children and Avaaz published on Tuesday found that 13 per cent of the British public supported the sale of weapons to the Saudis, while 63 per cent opposed them. It also indicated less than one in six people [14%] think that the UK’s role in supporting the Saudi/UAE-led coalition reflects British values and interests.

For the first time, a majority of Conservative [52%] voters oppose arms sales to the coalition, the poll taken on 29-30 August showed. This marks an increase from 25 per cent who said they were opposed in June. Conservative support for arm sales remained largely unchanged, at 24 per cent, compared to 25 per cent in June.

The parliamentary discussion comes after it emerged August was the bloodiest month in the country so far this year, with the United Nations [UN] finding that 981 civilians, including over 300 children, had been killed or injured.

Starvation is also being used as a weapon of war in the country, according to Save the Children, with some 400,000 children under the age of five so severely malnourished they are fighting for their lives. A further 1.8 million children are also starving, according to United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF.

Labour’s Stephen Twigg, chairman of the International Development Committee, said more than 10,000 people had been martyred in the three-year-long civil war as he made an application for a debate. He said MPs would consider the latest developments in the conflict and press for diplomatic, humanitarian and political progress.

Images of starving children with skeletal frames flooding out of the Gulf’s poorest country have continued to elicit horror around the world.

Since the bombing started, the Saudis have bought from Britain £2.7bn worth of aircraft, helicopters and drones; £1.9bn of grenades, bombs and missiles; and £572,000 worth of tanks, CAAT figures showed.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team