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BRITAIN has been arming and advising a Saudi air force that “does not see the difference” between a military or civilian target, Emily Thornberry said today.
The shadow foreign secretary’s condemnation comes after a Saudi-led coalition air attack on Yemen struck a schoolbus of children heading through a busy market yesterday morning, killing more than 40 people, mostly children, and injuring about 60.
She said that the air force “cannot tell or does not see the difference between a legitimate military target and a bus full of children, a family wedding, or a civilian food market.”
Ms Thornberry also admonished Prime Minister Theresa May for leaving the Saudi Crown Prince with her “fawning praise ringing in his ears” when visited London five months ago — and for renewing her government’s commitment to supply arms to support his disastrous military intervention in impoverished Yemen.
She said: “In those five months, it is the Saudi-led coalition that has inflicted the bulk of civilian casualties, as a result of its air strikes, its ground offensives, and its ongoing restriction of access for food, fuel, medicine, clean water and other essential humanitarian aid.
“How much longer is this Tory government going to abdicate its responsibility as pen-holder on Yemen at the UN security council without bringing forward a new resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire on all sides, an independent investigation of all war crimes and forcing all sides to the negotiating table?”
Yesterday the Star reported figures from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, which show that Britain has licensed £4.7 billion worth of aircraft and weapons since the bombing campaign against Yemen started in 2015.
Former British diplomat Mark Griffiths, the UN’s envoy to the country, warned today that Yemen is at risk of becoming a “Syria-plus” if the conflict there is left unresolved.
He said he feared “massive, massive humanitarian suffering” if a solution to the conflict between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and Iran-supported Houthi rebels is not found.
“In my judgement the war in Yemen will get more complicated the longer it goes on,” he said.
“There will be more international interest and polarisation in terms of the parties, it will fragment further, it will be more difficult to resolve — even than it is now.”
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