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New evidence to UK government documents Saudi cover-up of unlawful airstrikes in Yemen

It was reported today, August 15th 2019, that new evidence submitted to the UK government by an international group, documents that the Saudi-led coalition has covered up evidence of unlawful airstrikes on civilian targets in Yemen.

The allegations come as the UK prepares to challenge the Court of Appeal’s decision that the UK government should reconsider arms export licences to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen.

The report has been submitted by the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and UK law firm Bindmans and contains witness testimony as well as crater and bomb-fragment analysis from Saudi-led coalition airstrikes.

The evidence in the report was largely compiled by Mwatana, an independent Yemeni human rights group used by the UN to collect evidence in Yemen.

Much of their evidence contradicts the post-strike investigations conducted by the Saudi-led coalition and suggests they have been ‘targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure’.

The evidence was obtained by Arron Merat, a journalist and Commons researcher. On the report Merat said: “This evidence shows not only that Riyadh is targeting Yemeni civilians but that it is covering them up with whitewash ‘investigations’.”

The UK has licensed at least £4.7bn worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the start of the civil war in Yemen in March 2015.

Since 2015, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) has been monitoring the English language news reports on explosive violence in Yemen. In that time, AOAV has recorded over 9,000 civilian casualties (deaths and injuries) from Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen.

Civilians account for 86% (9,086) of the total casualties (10,572) recorded from Saudi-led coalition airstrikes.

AOAV monitored a 9% increase in civilian harm from Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen in 2018, compared to the previous year (from 1,393 civilian casualties in 2017 to 1,512 in 2018).

The Saudi-led coalition was responsible for 85% of civilian casualties from the use of explosive weapons in Yemen in 2018.

84% of the civilian casualties from the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes have occurred in populated areas, such as residential areas, schools, hospitals and markets.

The bombardment and destruction of civilian infrastructure has contributed significantly to the wider humanitarian emergency with 22.2 million Yemenis now in need of humanitarian assistance, according to UN figures.

AOAV calls upon states to recognise the civilian impact of explosive weapons with wide-area impacts, and to stop using such weapons in populated areas. AOAV encourages all states supplying arms to Saudi Arabia to suspend these sales until proper investigations have been conducted and such attacks cease to occur.