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The high-profile vote in the European Parliament today (Thursday 25 February) for an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia is a humanitarian appeal to end the bloodshed in Yemen, according to its proposer Richard Howitt MEP.

The Socialists and Democrats Group's foreign affairs coordinator is proposing the vote backed by four other political groups in the European Parliament, in the face of UN estimates of 7,000 civilian deaths since the Saudi-led military action started in March last year.

The European Parliament resolution is seeking to bring greater world attention to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and acknowledges that the Saudi-led coalition was legally invited to undertake military action but argues that 'serious allegations of human rights abuse' now require the European Union to end arms supplies, and to uphold its own EU Code of Conduct on arms sales (legally titled the 'Common Position').

A petition of 750,000 has been raised to support the call for an embargo. Since the military action began, the United Kingdom alone has licensed close to £3bn worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the last year.

Richard Howitt MEP said:

"This is a clear humanitarian appeal to end the bloodshed in Yemen, and call on Saudi Arabia to pursue a political rather than a military solution to the conflict.

"Europe and the world must not ignore the unacceptable death toll in Yemen, and the European Parliament is voting today that the allegations of breaches of international humanitarian law by Saudi Arabia in Yemen are now so serious that continuing arms sales would constitute a breach of the EU's own legally-agreed Code of Conduct.

"Europe wants Saudi Arabia to be a partner in combined international efforts to solve the conflicts in Yemen and in Syria, but this resolution says there is a humanitarian imperative for Europe to act on this now to offer hope of an end to the crisis for the Yemeni people."

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