Thursday, March 24, 2016

Open letter to Linda McAvan MEP on sales of arms to Saudi Arabia, and response

Dear Linda McAvan,

I am writing to urge you to support the European Parliament Joint Motion for a Resolution on the humanitarian situation in Yemen (2016/2515(RSP)) and the related amendment (2) scheduled for plenary vote on Thursday 25 February.

I am deeply concerned about the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, and the EU's complicity through its continuing arms sales.

The Saudi-led bombing of Yemen is fuelling a humanitarian disaster. Thousands of civilians have been killed, and the UN reports that 80% of the population now require humanitarian assistance. Yet the UK and other European governments have continued to support the air strikes and provide arms despite strong evidence of war crimes being committed. The UK government licensed an astounding £2.8 billion of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia in the six months after the bombing started.

A recent UN report has detailed more than 100 possible breaches of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition, with the targets including camps for internally displaced persons and refugees; civilian gatherings, including weddings; civilian vehicles, including buses; civilian residential areas; medical facilities; schools; mosques; markets, factories and food storage warehouses; and other essential civilian infrastructure.

EU Member States still transferring arms to Saudi Arabia are clearly breaching EU Common Position 2008/944/CFSP on arms exports control.

Please support the resolution and call for an immediate embargo on arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Franklin

Dear Mr Franklin,

Thank you for emailing me about the Motion for a resolution on the Humanitarian Situation in Yemen, which passed with a large majority during the recent vote in the European Parliament Plenary Session on 25 February 2016. Please accept my apologies for the delay in replying as well.

The resolution was put down at the initiative of Labour and our Socialist colleagues in the European Parliament because of the appalling violation of human rights that women, children and men are facing in Yemen and it therefore had our strong support. We also tried hard to get MEPs from other parties to support it. We resisted attempts to water down the language – it was a straight 'for' and 'against' vote on the specific amendment on the arms embargo. The vote on the embargo passed with 359 in favour and 212 against – Conservative and UKIP MEPs either voted against or abstained.

The resolution recognises abuses on all sides in Yemen and seeks to uphold the EU Code of Conduct on arms exports, which already prohibits the export of arms where these may be used in contravention of international humanitarian law.

We will continue to do everything we can to work for a peaceful settlement in Yemen and I, as chair of the Committee on International Development, will try to ensure there is continuing humanitarian support for the people of Yemen.

Yours sincerely

Linda McAvan MEP

Yorkshire and the Humber

Constituency Office: 79 High Street, Wath-upon-Dearne, South Yorkshire S63 7QB

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