EU Parl’t Renews Call For Arms Embargo the Day after Theresa May Visits Saudi Arabia
The European Parliament renewed its call for an EU-wide arms embargo against Saudi Arabia the day after UK's Prime Minister Theresa May visited the country with a pledge to build a close relationship with its regime.
MPs voted by 368 to 221 to back an embargo against the autocratic petro state, whose intervention in Yemen has been blamed for causing thousands of civilian deaths and exacerbating a severe shortage of food.
The UK is one of Saudi Arabia's biggest arms suppliers, having sold £4.6 billion worth of controlled arms since the bombardment of Yemen started in 2015. Of that figure, £1.9 billion is said by the Government to be bombs or missiles and £2.7 billion worth is aircraft.
Meanwhile, 20.7 million people in Yemen are in need of humanitarian assistance in the country, with over 7 million on the verge famine.
Saudi forces have been widely accused of committing war crimes during their intervention in Yemen, where reports on the ground suggest they have blown up international hospitals, funerals, schools, and weddings.
Speaking in a debate ahead of the vote, Christos Stylianides, the European Commissioner for humanitarian aid, told the Parliament that Saudi Arabia was preventing aid from getting through despite a looming famine.
"We do understand Saudi Arabia's security concerns. At the same time the new measures taken by the Coalition are having a severe impact on the delivery of lifesaving assistance," he said.
"Commercial goods cannot enter the areas beyond the government's control. Most Yemenis no longer have the means to get food or fuel. Such escalation has worsened an already dire humanitarian situation."
Victor Bo?tinaru, a Socialist group MEP, said: "In Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world, war and famine continue will impunity, and civilians die under bombs of one of the richest countries in the world, Saudi Arabia, the country we are continuing to sell arms to and offer support."
"The other side of the story is that while we are turning a blind eye and while some are shamefully choosing sides, Saudi Arabia and Iran are turning Yemen into a misery."
The Parliament's renewal of a call follows the call by two British parliamentary committees which also called for a ban.
May on Thursday defended her "friendly" visit to Saudi Arabia, claiming to reporters who accompanied her on her visit that she was "very concerned about the humanitarian situation in Yemen" but that "building our relationship with [Saudi Arabia] enables us to get that greater knowledge and understanding which enables us to address issues which are of concern to us".
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team