Italy freezes arms sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE

Italy makes permanent arms sale freeze to Saudi Arabia, UAE
2 min read
Italy's Peace and Disarmament Network, a campaign group, hailed the "historic" move that it estimated would see orders for more than 12,700 ordnance cancelled.
Several European Union countries froze arms sales to Saudi Arabia. [Getty]
Italy on Friday revoked approval for arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates over the conflict in Yemen, making permanent an 18-month temporary suspension.

"Today I am announcing that the government has revoked the authorisations underway for the export of missiles and aircraft bombs to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates," Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said.

"(This is) an act that we considered due, a clear message of peace coming from our country. For us, respect for human rights is an unbreakable commitment," he said. 

He did not mention Yemen but referenced the conflict there when he ordered the initial suspension in July 2019. 

Italy's Peace and Disarmament Network, a campaign group, hailed the "historic" move that it estimated would see orders for more than 12,700 ordnance cancelled. 

It "puts an end, once and for all, to the possibility that thousands of ordnance manufactured in Italy could strike civilian facilities, cause casualties among the population or contribute to worsening the already serious humanitarian situation", the group said.

Amnesty International's Italian branch also welcomed the decision, but underscored the importance to tackle more factors that are fuelling the war in Yemen. 

"This move... alone can not end the war in Yemen and alleviate the suffering of a population exhausted by conflict, famine and disease, but is a necessary step in create the preconditions for Peace," the rights group said in a statement on Friday.

"In this sense, we remind the Italian Government of the need to continue supporting humanitarian action coordinated by the United Nations, confirming and increasing Italy's financial contribution to the UN Humanitarian Response Plan."

In 2019, several European Union countries froze arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which heads a military coalition fighting Iran-backed Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people.

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