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Saferworld statement on funeral hall attack in Yemen

10 October 2016

Saferworld condemns the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes on a funeral reception in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, on Saturday that killed at least 140 people and injured more than 500. We urgently call for a suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and a fully independent international inquiry to be set up to investigate violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) in Yemen.


Saferworld welcomes statements by the EU condemning the attack and stating that those responsible must be held accountable, and from the US on its intention to review support for the Saudi-led coalition. We urge the UK to condemn the attack and  immediately suspend any further sale or transfer of arms at risk of being used in Yemen.
 
“Depressingly this horrific attack is only the latest in a long series of air strikes in which large numbers of civilians have died”, said Roy Isbister for Saferworld.  “The coalition’s Joint Investigation Assessments Team and the Yemeni Commission of Inquiry have failed to conduct credible investigations into IHL violations in Yemen. Furthermore the UK has admitted it has failed to assess whether the Saudi-led coalition has been breaking IHL. Yet rather than stopping its supply of aircraft and bombs to Saudi Arabia, which could ultimately be found to amount to complicity in war crimes, we continue to see reports that the UK is chasing further billion-pound arms sales to the Kingdom’s Air Force.
 
Footage from Sana’a shows a “double tap” airstrike where one strike is launched and as people rush to help the wounded at the scene, a second strike hits. Over 10,000 people have been killed and more than three million displaced since the escalation of conflict in March 2015.
 
All sides of the conflict are accused of committing violations of IHL. Over the weekend it was reported that fighting on the ground has intensified, including indiscriminate shelling in Taiz by forces allied to the Houthis and former President Saleh. All parties urgently need to ensure the protection of civilians.
 
“If the UK wants to support a political solution to the conflict, it must bring its actions in line with its words by suspending its supply of arms to Saudi Arabia until a credible and fully independent investigation has been carried out" Isbister stated. "Enabling continued military action by the Saudi-led coalition is only deepening the conflict.”

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The UK has admitted it has failed to assess whether the Saudi-led coalition has been breaking IHL. Yet rather than stopping its supply of aircraft and bombs to Saudi Arabia, which could ultimately be found to amount to complicity in war crimes, we continue to see reports that the UK is chasing further billion-pound arms sales.

Roy Isbister