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Wednesday, February 06, 2019, 14:00
Amnesty accuses UAE of diverting arms to 'militias' in Yemen
By Reuters
Wednesday, February 06, 2019, 14:00 By Reuters

This Nov 6, 2018 photo shows Yemeni pro-government forces advancing towards the port area from the eastern outskirts of Hodeida, as they battled for the control of the city controlled by Houthi rebels. Rights group Amnesty International has accused the UAE of siphoning arms to militias in Yemen “accused of war crimes”. (PHOTO / AFP)

DUBAI – Amnesty International accused the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday of divertingarms supplied by Western and other states to "unaccountable militias accused of war crimes" in Yemen. 

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are leading a military coalition, including local forces drawn from various Yemeni factions, that is trying to restore the internationally recognized government ousted from power in 2014 by the Iranian-aligned Houthi group. 

The UAE has trained and armed thousands of Yemeni fighters, mostly in southern provinces and western coastal areas, as part of the forces battling the Houthis

"Emirati forces receive billions of dollars' worth of arms from Western states and others, only to syphon them off to militias in Yemen that answer to no-one and are known to be committing war crimes," Amnesty said in a statement. 

"The proliferation of these fighting forces is a recipe for disaster for Yemeni civilians who have already been killed in their thousands, while millions more are on the brink of famine as a direct result of the war," the human rights group said. 

READ MORE: Possible war crimes by all parties in Yemen, say UN experts

The UAE government media office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Amnesty statement. 

The UAE has trained and armed thousands of Yemeni fighters, mostly in southern provinces and western coastal areas, as part of the forces battling the Houthis, who control most urban areas including the capital Sanaa and the main port of Hodeidah. 

Western nations, many of which provide weapons and intelligence to the coalition, have pressed for an end to the almost four-year war after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi increased scrutiny of Saudi activities in the region. 

ALSO READ: Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen are war crimes, says HRW

Rights groups have accused both sides in the conflict of committing possible war crimes, including abuse of detainees, a charge the warring parties have denied. 

In this Dec 29, 2018 photo, Yemen’s Houthi rebel fighters are pictured in the port city of Hodeidah, as the beginning of their pull back from the Red Sea port was announced. (ABDO HYDER / AFP)

Amnesty called on states to suspend arms sales to the warring parties until there is "no longer a substantial risk" they may be used to breach humanitarian or human rights law. 

The conflict is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Muslim Iran. The Houthis deny charges that Iran supplies them with weapons and say their revolution is a popular one against corruption.

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