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NGOs demand France halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE over Yemen war

France's arms sales policy is a marked contrast with many European countries [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 July, 2019

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Nineteen NGOs sent an open letter to French MPs demanding France stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in accordance with the country's international obligations over Yemen's war.
Nineteen NGOs on Tuesday sent an open letter to French MPs demanding France stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in accordance with the country's international obligations over the war in Yemen.

The coalition – which includes Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International France, International Federation for Human Rights and Salam for Yemen – called on French politicians to use their power to stop the arms transfers.

"We urge you to perform your duty to check the government's action, ensuring that France does not violate its international commitments by continuing to export arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates," read the joint letter.

"These two countries are spearheading a military coalition responsible for serious and systematic violations of international humanitarian law against Yemeni civilians," the NGOs added.

France, the world's third-biggest arms exporter, has resisted pressure to stop arms sales to Gulf countries taking part in the war in Yemen.

It is a marked contrast with many European countries, which have suspended their weapon sales to Saudi Arabia since last October, following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"In a growing number of countries, the war in Yemen is pushing governments to revise their arms export policy. Germany, Denmark, Norway, Finland were the first to stop or limit their arms sales," added the NGOs, questioning France's unwillingness to follow suit.

The Republican-led Senate voted on June 20 to block US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies.

Meanwhile, British weapons sold to Saudi Arabia to use in Yemen were declared illegal by the court of appeal.

Red more: Trump vows to veto Saudi arms sales block

British and American-made bombs may have killed or injured more than 1,000 Yemeni civilians, including women and children.

The Yemen war, described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis by the United Nations, broke out between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the Saudi and UAE-backed government, leaving millions on the brink of famine.

Yemen's civil war has killed at least 91,600 people so far, according to The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project ACLED.

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