UK government accused of enabling Saudi warfare in Yemen
The House of Commons session saw Labour and Scottish National Party (SNP) MPs calling on the government to immediately suspend arms sales to Riyadh so as to "restrict Saudi Arabia’s ability to carry out air strikes on Yemenis and exacerbate the humanitarian crisis".
"While this government are complicit in arming, training and deploying special forces, and all but dropping bombs ourselves, under international law Britain will be party to this conflict," said Labour MP Sam Tarry.
Labour MP Claudia Webbe said it is "shameful" that the UK is "complicit" in the Yemeni conflict.
"The UK supplies weapons and crucial military support to the Saudi-led coalition, which is responsible for the highest number of reported civilian fatalities," she said. "British companies should not be allowed to profit from the suffering of the people of Yemen."
SNP MP Patricia Gibson accused the government of selling weapons to Saudi Arabia "so that it can slaughter civilians, while trumpeting their subscription to the global human rights sanction regulations on selling instruments of torture to the Yemenis".
James Cleverly, Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, said he recognised concerns surrounding the UK's arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but defended the UK's collaboration with Riyadh as a necessity against offensives by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
The UK government was also criticised for selling arms to Saudi Arabia as war-ravaged Yemen deals with what the United Nations calls "the worst humanitarian crisis in the world", compounded with the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UN said Wednesday that critical aid had been cut at 300 health centres across Yemen due to a lack of funding, with lifesaving food handouts also reduced.
Between April and August, more than a third of the UN's major humanitarian programmes in Yemen had been reduced or shut down entirely, with further drastic cuts planned.
The UK announced it would resume its sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia in July.
Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the UK determined allegations of civilian deaths in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition to be "isolated incidents", adding that Riyadh has a "genuine intent and the capacity" to comply with humanitarian law.
Despite a 2019 court ruling that banned UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the UK has admitted to breaching the ban several times.
Yemen has been left in ruins by six years of war and tens of thousands of people - mainly civilians - have been killed.
Yemen's internationally recognised government has been battling the Houthis since 2014, when the rebels seized much of the north.