Germany halts all arms exports to countries bombing Yemen
Germany is set to halt all arms exports to countries involved in the war in Yemen, a government spokesperson has announced.
Countries impacted by the latest arms embargo include Saudi Arabia, a major buyer of German weapons which has continued to bomb Yemen since 2015.
The announcement comes amid ongoing talks between Germany's political parties to form a coalition government following the German federal election last September.
Among the parties involved in talks include Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and the Social Democratic Party (SPD).
Steffa Seibert, a spokesperson for Merkel, wrote on Friday, that Germany "isn't taking any arms exports decisions right now that aren't in line with the results of the preliminary talks."
The move also coincides with Norway's decision earlier this month to suspend all arms sales to the UAE over its involvement in the ongoing war in Yemen.
German arms exports criticised
Arms exports to Middle Eastern countries, like Egypt and Qatar, with poor human rights records, was a source of criticism by opposition politicians during the federal election campaign.
In November 2017, Merkel's government was forced to admit that it had nearly quintupled arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Egypt between 2016 and 2017, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW).
DW notes that German arms exports to Saudi Arabia totalled almost $550m in 2017.
The German government was forced to disclose the numbers after several members of parliament from the opposition Left Party demanded the information.
The disclosure, however, did not give full details on the type of weapons exported, but DW notes that a significant proportion of the sales to Saudi Arabia is expected to include four patrol boats and 110 military trucks.
Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have called on Britain and the United States, who are major suppliers of weapons to Saudi Arabia, to suspend weapons sales to the Gulf country.
The UK has licensed more than $6.3bn worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the war in began, according to the Campaigns Against Arms Trade (CAAT).
Saudi aid to Yemen
The Saudi-led military coalition on Monday announced $1.5bn in new humanitarian aid for Yemen after the United Nations made what it called a record appeal for assistance for the war-ravaged country.
The coalition also said it would "increase the capacities of Yemeni ports to receive humanitarian" imports, as it faces mounting criticism for imposing a crippling blockade on the country.
Earlier this month, several rights group called on UK Prime Minister Theresa May to withdraw an invitation to Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to visit the UK.
Since 2015, a Saudi-led coalition has conducted an aerial bombing campaign over Yemen, aimed at countering the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and supporting the government of President Abd-Mansour Hadi.
More than 9,200 people have been killed in Yemen since March 2015, when the Saudi-led military coalition intervened in the war.
Another nearly 2,200 Yemenis have died of cholera amid deteriorating hygiene and sanitation conditions, the World Health Organisation says.
Over the past year, the United Nations' efforts to address what it has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis have been hampered by a crippling blockade of rebel-held ports by the Saudi-led coalition.