19 December 2016

Saudi-led coalition ends use of UK-made cluster bombs in Yemen

Saudi-led coalition should cease the use of all cluster munitions.


BL-755 Amnesty Intl

A BL-755 cluster munition identified in Yemen. Copyright Amnesty International


On Monday, 19 December, General Ahmed Asiri, spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition, announced that the use of UK-made BL-755 cluster munitions in Yemen has been stopped, also confirming that these cluster munitions had previously been used by the coalition in Yemen. This followed an inquiry into this use by the Saudi-led coalition, conducted in dialogue with the UK.

“The Saudi-led coalition’s decision to cease using the BL-755 is an important step in protecting the people of Yemen but it is not sufficient,” stated Cluster Munition Coalition Director Megan Burke. “The Cluster Munition Coalition urges the Saudi-led coalition to immediately halt the use of all types of cluster munitions.” All cluster munitions have been banned under the Convention on Cluster Munitions due to their indiscriminate nature; their use violates international humanitarian law.

The Saudi-led coalition has also admitted to having used US-made sensor fuzed weapons (produced by Textron) in Yemen. According to the Cluster Munition Monitor, there have been at least five other types of cluster munitions used by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen since April 2015, besides the BL-755 and the sensor fuzed weapons.

On the same day, British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon confirmed the use of UK-made cluster munitions by Saudi-led forces in Yemen. This statement came more than six months after the Ministry of Defence said it would urgently investigate allegations from an Amnesty International report that British cluster munitions had been deployed.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen responded to the news by stating that “Thousands of Yemeni civilians have already been killed and injured by the Saudi coalition’s reckless and indiscriminate bombing of homes, hospitals, schools and factories. It doesn’t require a belated ‘investigation’ within the MoD to tell us what we already knew - that the UK should immediately suspend all further weapons sales to Saudi Arabia that risk fuelling these appalling atrocities in Yemen.”

More information on cluster munition use in Yemen is available here.