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G20 leaders have been urged to work towards an end to the bombing of Yemen when they meet in an online summit hosted by Saudi Arabia this weekend.
Saudi forces have led a bombing campaign against Yemen for five years, with arms provided by many G20 member countries including the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Italy.
Campaign Against Arms Trade (Caat) urged G20 leaders today to use the summit, which was planned to take place in the Saudi capital city Riyadh until the pandemic struck, to work towards ending the conflict.
Britain has licensed at least £5.4 billion of arms sales to Saudi Arabia since 2015.
Caat noted that the true figure is “likely to be a great deal higher, with most bombs and missiles being licensed via the opaque and secretive Open Licence system.”
The war has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with some estimates putting the death toll at more than 100,000.
In 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled that the British government had acted unlawfully when it licensed the sale of arms for use against Yemen without assessing whether the war breached international humanitarian law.
The government was ordered not to approve any new licences and to reconsider decisions on existing licences in a lawful manner.
In July this year, the government announced that it was resuming arms sales after a Department of International Trade review concluded that any violations of international humanitarian law committed by the Saudi-led coalition were “isolated incidents.”
Caat said that this conclusion contradicted evidence of hundreds of attacks on residential areas and civilian buildings. Last month, the group filed a new legal challenge against the decision to resume sales.
Andrew Smith of Caat said: “After years of conflict and with Covid spreading, the crisis is only getting worse. The bombing must stop and so must the arms sales that have enabled it.”
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