THE UK Government “cannot sit on its hands” over the ongoing conflict in Yemen, Caerphilly MP Wayne David has said.
The Labour MP was speaking in Parliament on Monday, December 19, during a debate on the civil war between two factions claiming to constitute the country’s government, which broke out last year and is so far believed to have claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people, injured 37,000 more and displaced more than three million.
Addressing defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon Mr David said he was “deeply concerned” about the ongoing situation and allegations that both sides had violated international law by using banned ‘cluster weapons’.
“Not only are such weapons immediately dangerous, but they come with a toxic legacy, lying on battlefields and threatening civilians, especially children, long after a conflict has ended,” he said.
Mr David added he was especially concerned at least some of the cluster bombs, which release a number of projectiles when they detonate, had been manufactured in the UK, despite such weapons being banned since 2008.
“Although the cluster munitions were exported in the 1980s, will the government commit to examining whether their current policy needs to be changed?” he said.
“There have been wholly unacceptable actions, and this country cannot sit on its hands.”
He also called for an independent, United Nations-led investigation into possible breaches of humanitarian and international law in Yemen.
Sir Michael replied he shared concerns about the humanitarian impacts of the conflict.
“We all want to see this conflict brought to an end and I hope we would be even-handed about that,” he said.
“More than 90 Saudi civilians have lost their lives in this conflict through shelling over the border into Saudi Arabia and more than 500, including women and children, have been injured.
“It is important that those things are set alongside other allegations of civilian casualties in Yemen itself.”
He added the government remained opposed to the use of cluster weapons, but would not call for an inquiry as this was considered a matter for the Saudi Arabian or Yemen authorities to do.