Canada urged to stop fuelling war in Yemen with Saudi arms sales, UN report says

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Canada has been named as one of the countries to help fuel the war in Yemen for the second year in a row by a panel of experts that monitor conflicts for the United Nations and investigate possible war crimes between combatants.

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A UN panel lists Canada as one of five countries selling arms to conflict wagers in Yemen: the Saudi-led coalition versus the Houthi rebels backed by Iran.

The panel says the international community has left Yemen as the war enters its seventh year and no ceasefire is in sight.

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The latest report by the Group of Distinguished International and Regional Experts on Yemen says arms sales from Canada and countries including the United States, the United Kingdom and Iran continue “with little regard for the enormous suffering of the people of Yemen”.

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The panel, which first identified Canada in its 2020 report, expressed concern that the country was still sending weapons to fighters. “Given the terrible toll the war continues on the people of Yemen, it does not stand to reason that third states continue to supply the parties to the conflict with the means of war. The flow of arms must now stop,” said the panel. President Kamel Jendoubi said.

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Canada flouting international law by continuing Saudi arms sales, report says

Saudi Arabia is Canada’s largest export market for military goods after the United States, and 2020 figures, the most recent available, show more than $1.3 billion worth of Canadian defense equipment – ​​primarily machine guns or cannons. Armored vehicle – was shipped to Riyadh. A key driver of exports is a $15 billion deal to sell combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia. The deal was done under the Harper government, but the Trudeau government approved exports to begin shipments in 2016.

Saudi Arabia has been embroiled in a war in Yemen since 2015, supporting the Yemeni government against Houthi rebels backed by Iran as the leader of a coalition of Middle East and African nations. Human rights groups and Western political leaders – including the European Parliament – have urged a moratorium on arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says the war in Yemen has caused an estimated 233,000 deaths since it began in 2014 – including 131,000 from indirect causes such as lack of food, health services and infrastructure. It is what the United Nations body has called “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”.

Ardi Emses, a professor of law at Queen’s University and a member of the UN-appointed panel, said those waging war in Yemen believe they can prosecute the conflict without significant consequences.

“The civilian population is paying the highest price in this struggle with constant suffering as they are deeply mired in hunger and poverty,” he told a news conference on Wednesday. “We believe that the international community must muster the necessary political will for peace in Yemen.”

The Canadian government had earlier tried to distance itself from the controversy by saying that Canada was not selling air strike equipment to the Saudis.

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In a 2020 report, the Federal Department for Global Affairs noted that Saudi Arabia is often accused of serious violations of international humanitarian law by the way it conducts airstrikes in Yemen, which watchdog groups say it is. is indiscriminate and kills many civilians. However, Global Affairs said in its report, Canada does not sell air-to-surface missiles or bomber aircraft to the Saudis.

Pro. According to Imes, Canada’s reluctance to cancel arms shipments to Saudi Arabia means the kingdom is facing no condemnation for its conduct. He said ending the armored-vehicle shipment would signal to Saudi Arabia that its behavior in Yemen is unacceptable.

“As long as the weapons keep flowing, this war is only going to get worse,” he said. “The continued supply of weapons by Canada to the parties in the conflict is part of the problem.”

Cesar Jaramillo, executive director of the Waterloo, Ont., disarmament group Project Plowshares, said it was “shameful” to name Canada by a UN panel investigating violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen.

“All Canadians should be ashamed of Canada’s outrageous inclusion in this damaging report,” he said.

“It is no longer a question of whether Canada is inadvertently facilitating the commission of human rights violations. It is a case of Canada’s close involvement in war crimes. And the only defensive course of action for Ottawa is to arm Saudi Arabia.” There is an immediate and long-term cancellation of exports.

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Comment on the UN panel’s report was sought from the office of Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau and it sent questions to officials from the Department of Global Affairs. The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Find out what’s happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary, handpicked by Granthshala editors (clients only). .

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