More than 40 Saudi military cadets have been receiving training in British military colleges amid human rights abuse reports against the Gulf state’s forces in Yemen, local media reported on Wednesday, Anadolu reports.
According to the information received through freedom of information channels by The Guardian, the cadets are being trained at Sandhurst, the Royal Air Force school at Cranwell and the Royal Navy College since 2015.
The British Ministry of Defense declined to inform the daily about the amounts of the contracts, the report said.
Recently, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt criticized Germany for halting arm sales to Saudi Arabia, following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle is quoted by the newspaper as saying that Britain’s training of Saudi officers in the U.K. was “the tip of the iceberg of British enablement of the Saudi war machine to devastate the people of Yemen”.
“The government argues that helping Saudi prosecute its war crimes is stabilising the Gulf. This is a cynical, morally bankrupt and, most importantly, erroneous position taken to make money out of human suffering,” he said.
The UK has sold at least £5.7billion ($7.47 billion) worth of arms to the Saudi-led coalition, which is fighting in Yemen since 2015, according to an analysis released by Sky News last month.
British state has been under criticism for not halting arm sales to Saudi Arabia following multiple reports of human rights abuses and one of the worst human tragedies involving civilian deaths due to hunger in Yemen.
The UK’s arm sales have been under scrutiny and came under focus again after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate.
Labour Shadow Secretary Emily Thornberry previously called the killing a “disgraceful murder” and said the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman “takes his allies for fools,” mentioning some of the alleged crimes attributed to him.
Urging the UK government to use the Magnitsky powers for anyone involved in the murder, including those who ordered it, Thornberry asked for financial penalties on those responsible and the suspension of UK’s sales of arms to this country.
Hunt had said the reports about Khashoggi’s death, if they prove true, “are not compatible with our values”.
According to the United Nations, Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. As the conflict enters its fourth year, around 14 million people in Yemen, or half the total population of the country, are at risk of famine, the UN says.
As many as 85,000 children under the age of 5 in Yemen have starved to death since the war began, Save the Children, a rights group, reported on Wednesday.