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UK Arms Sales Condemned After 12,000 Children Killed or Maimed

Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting in Yemen and Israel – both major buyers of UK arms – are among nations criticised in UN report


A Harrier GR9 pictured prior to a sortie over Afghanistan loaded with Paveway IV laser guided bombs underneath the wings

The UK government has been condemned for arming states named and shamed in a new United Nations (UN) report revealing that more than 12,000 children were killed or maimed last year in armed conflicts.

Innocent children across the world were shot, bombed, raped, recruited as child soldiers, imprisoned and had limbs amputated after being targeted by warring parties, the UN said.

A Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting in Yemen, and Israel – both major buyers of UK arms – are among a number of nations and terror groups criticised in a disturbing report.

India, Pakistan and Thailand – who also buy weapons from the UK – were also named alongside terror outfits Islamic State, Al-Shabaab in Somalia, and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which operates in Yemen.

The UN said that more than 24,000 “grave violations” were committed against children, prompting critics of the arms trade to express outrage at the carnage. They have accused the UK government of having “blood on its hands” and “complicity” in the crimes of regimes named in the report.

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, revealed that a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition fighting in Yemen killed or injured 729 children during 2018. A total of 43 per cent of child casualties were attributed to the coalition, of which 684 were due to airstrikes.

The Houthis killed 398 children while the Yemeni Government Forces killed 58. There were 28 schools in Yemen attacked and 16 hospitals.

Regarding Israel and Palestine, the report said that 59 Palestinian children were killed in the West Bank and Gaza, some as young as 18 months old. Israeli forces killed 56 children, while an Israeli settler killed one child.

Another child was killed by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigades, and one boy was killed by an improvised explosive device accidentally detonated at his home by an Al-Aqsa Brigade member.

The report said: “Of these 59 children, 33 boys and 1 girl were killed by Israeli forces during demonstrations at the Gaza fence, 88 per cent of whom (30) were shot by live ammunition to the upper body, while reportedly posing no imminent threat of death or serious injury to Israeli forces, and another 2 boys died after being struck in the head by tear gas canisters.”

Another 2,756 Palestinian children were injured, many hurt during the Great March of Return in Gaza. Twenty children had limbs amputated. Six Israeli children were injured, the report added, including two girls hurt in their home by a rocket fired indiscriminately by a Palestinian armed group.

Secretary-General Guterres said: “I am deeply concerned by the scale and severity of the grave violations committed against children in 2018, notably the record high number of casualties as a result of killing and maiming and the increase in the number of violations attributed to international forces.

“I call upon all parties to immediately end and take all necessary measures to prevent such grave violations, including through ensuring mitigation measures and enhancing training on preventing the six grave violations, as well as by ensuring strong accountability measures for the perpetrators of crimes against children.”

The UK’s arms sales to both Saudi Arabia and Israel have been condemned in recent years due to concerns over human rights abuses and allegations of war crimes.

Since the Conservatives were elected in May 2015 the UK has licensed £5.3 billion worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia including grenades, aircraft, drones and Paveway IV smart bombs made in Scotland.

As a result of mounting civilian casualties in Yemen due to indiscriminate airstrikes, the Saudi-led coalition has been accused of scores of war crimes, piling pressure on the UK government to stop arms sales to its Middle East ally.

Source: The Ferret

Tags: arms-trade

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