NGO criticises Spanish contribution to Yemen conflict

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CRITICISED: Amnesty International has said Spain's supply of arms to the Saudi-led coalition could be leading to atrocities in Yemen

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL has said the Spain, along with Britain, the US, and others, could be contributing to atrocities in Yemen by supplying arms to Saudi Arabia.

The international human rights NGO made the claim as Saudi involvement in the country’s civil war enters its third year.

The country has been conducting air strikes against the Huthi armed group since March 2015. Amnesty International said the Saudi air force was using weapons manufactured by several countries, including Spain, in strikes on the group and on civilians.  

Lynn Maalouf, from the NGO’s Middle East division, said there was “extensive” evidence that the sale of arms to the Saudi-led coalition was causing great harm to Yemeni civilians.

“This has not deterred the USA, the UK and other states, including France, Spain and Italy, from continuing transfers of billions of dollars’ worth of such arms,” she said.

“As well as devastating civilian lives, this makes a mockery of the global Arms Trade Treaty.”

Among the cases cited by the group was that of a bombing raid on January 27 2018 in a Rakabwhich left six civilians dead.

Amnesty International claimed the strike was conducted using a GBU-12 laser-guided 500-pound bomb, made by Lockheed Martin in the US.

Spain was the third largest arms exporter to Saudi Arabia after the UK and the US in 2017, according to Greenpeace.

Weapons sold to the Saudis included mortar shells, aircraft and various kinds of ammunition. Between late 2016 and August 2017 the country delivered more than 310 containers of explosives to Saudi Arabia, according to reports.

A 2015 report on the sale of Spanish arms stated that all weapons licenses for Saudi Arabia were made with a strict clause prohibiting re-export or use outside home territory.

The Yemeni Civil War began after Houthi fighters seized control of Sana’a, the country’s capital, following the controversial election of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Hadi fled the capital and the conflict has since escalated, leading to the involvement of both Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The conflict has claimed the lives of more than 5974 civilians and has wounded more than 9,493, according to the latest statistics from the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The body also said more than 20 million people, 80 per cent of the country’s population, are in need of humanitarian aid.

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