European lawmakers on Thursday called for an EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia over its military campaign in conflict-torn Yemen which has caused "thousands of deaths."
Saudi Arabia said last week it would continue its intervention, launched in March last year against Iran-backed Huthi rebels, until Yemen President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi was fully restored to power.
The European Parliament in a resolution urged EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini “to launch an initiative aimed at imposing an EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia.”
MEPs also expressed concern “at the airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition and the naval blockade it has imposed on Yemen, which have led to thousands of deaths (and) further destabilised Yemen,” a Parliament statement said.
The non-binding resolution, passed by 449 votes to 36, cited Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran as the major players in a conflict which the UN says has claimed some 6,000 lives, caused hundreds of thousands to flee and destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure.
“A ceasefire that halts attacks against civilians, medical and aid workers, ground fighting and shelling in Yemen is urgently needed to allow life-saving aid to reach the Yemeni people,” the statement said.
Oil-rich Saudi Arabia buys most of its arms from the United States but also has major contracts worth tens of billions with key EU powers, led by Britain and France where there is growing unease at their use in the Yemen fighting.
Since Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab allies intervened last year, they have regained control of large swathes of Yemen territory from the rebels.