Amnesty International has published detailed information rebutting claims by the British government that no UK-manufactured cluster munitions were used by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition during the Yemen conflict which began in March 2015.
The organization recently found evidence indicating that a British-manufactured “BL-755” cluster bomb was used by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in an attack in al-Khadhra village in Yemen’s Hajjah governorate, approximately six miles from the Saudi Arabia border.
On 24 May the UK Minister for Defence Procurement, Philip Dunne, cast doubt on the evidence suggesting it could have come from a previous conflict.
“It is utterly shameful that the British government has sought to evade responsibility, denying the use of UK-supplied cluster munitions in Yemen by the Saudi Arabia–led coalition despite comprehensive and compelling evidence gathered by Amnesty International on the ground,” said Lama Fakih, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Advisor.
“By failing to launch an urgent investigation into the use of British-made cluster munitions the UK government is demonstrating a callous indifference to the lives of civilians in Yemen.”
Amnesty International’s investigation into the use of the “BL-755” cluster bomb in Yemen involved an examination of photographs taken of the weapon at the impact site, inspection of the partially-exploded BL-755 in a de-mining warehouse, and interviews with local eyewitnesses and de-mining experts.
The investigation into the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition’s use of cluster bombs in Sa’da and Hajjah governorates near the Yemen-Saudi Arabian border revealed that at least 16 civilians – including nine children – have been killed or injured by cluster submunitions between July 2015 and last month. Saudi Arabia-led coalition air strikes have also killed and injured thousands of civilians in Yemen since the conflict began.
The UK should be calling on the Saudi Arabia-led coalition to cease all use of cluster weapons and urging them to immediately provide the UN with precise locations of cluster munition attacks in order to facilitate clearance and to warn civilians about the risks.