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Campaigners condemn docking of Saudi 'arms ship' at UK port

Saudi has supplied millions in arms to Yemen [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 February, 2020

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An arms ship which is docking in several parts of Europe including the UK is being condemned by 17 human rights groups.
Campaigners and human rights organisations are protesting a Saudi boat carrying arms which is stopping at various ports in Europe, including in the UK, over the kingdom's involvement in the Yemen crisis. 

The Bahri Yanbu ship arrived in Tillbury, UK on Thursday morning, and ship owners have admitted that it is carrying military equipment for Saudi Arabia.

The kingdom has been heavily criticised for its part in supplying arms in the deadly Yemen conflict which is one of the biggest humanitarian crises.

The ship is owned by the Bahri company, a national company of Saudi Arabia that is the "exclusive logistics provider" for the country’s ministry of defence.

The ship has already visited ports in the US and Canada and will be visiting France and Italy before heading to the Middle East.

Yemen in Focus: Hundreds of Yemeni students stranded in 'apocalyptic' Wuhan amid coronavirus outbreak

The ship was meant to stop at Antwerp, but was stopped by protesters. It is also expected to be met with protests in France and Italy.

This morning, a group of CAAT supporters will protest outside Tilbury port, pics will be available on request.


A collection of 17 human rights organisations including Human Rights Watch have penned an open letter to France Prime Minister Edouard Philippe demanding to know what precisely is inside the boat and, if it is weapons, to pledge that it won’t be used against Yemeni civilians.

"We urge you to inform us of the nature of the material to be loaded onto the Bahri Yanbu in Cherbourg and, in the event that it is armament, to inform us of the guarantees given to France that they will not be used unlawfully against Yemeni civilians," the letter read.

"We reiterate our call for France to cease its arms transfers to Saudi Arabia so as not to be complicit in serious violations," they add.

Saudi Arabia intervened in the almost five-year civil war in its southern neighbour to support the government side, but the conflict has claimed tens of thousands of civilian lives.

The kingdom is one of the world's biggest arms purchasers, spending billions on US and UK arms in particular.

In June 2019, following a legal action taken by CAAT, the Court of Appeal ruled that the Government acted unlawfully when it licensed the sale of UK-made arms to Saudi forces for use in Yemen without making an assessment as to whether or not past incidents amounted to breaches of International Humanitarian Law.



The government was ordered not to approve any new licences and to retake the decisions on extant licences in a lawful manner.

Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licensed £5.3 billion worth of arms to the Saudi regime, including £2.7 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones) and £2.5 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures).

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