By Naomi McAuliffe, Amnesty International programme director, Scotland

ON March 26, 2015, the current conflict in Yemen was escalated to a bloody war by a Saudi-led coalition carrying out airstrikes on rebel forces – to date at least 4,125 civilians have been killed, including 1,200 children.

These figures are appalling, and there is another troubling development; possible complicity by the UK Government in some of these deaths. Amnesty International has repeatedly called on Westminster to halt arms transfers to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen where there is a clear risk of these weapons being used in breaches of international humanitarian law.

Last May, Amnesty published evidence showing that the Saudi-led coalition had used UK-manufactured BL-755 cluster munitions in northern Yemen. One of those cluster bombs malfunctioned, leaving scores of deadly unexploded “bomblets” strewn over a wide area six miles from the Saudi Arabia border. After months of denial, the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told the House of Commons in December that Saudi Arabia had admitted using UK-manufactured cluster munitions.

Coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia have repeatedly committed serious violations of international law, including alleged war crimes, in Yemen. They have indiscriminately bombed schools, hospitals, markets, and mosques, killing and injuring thousands of civilians using arms supplied by the US and UK governments, including internationally banned cluster bombs. One Yemeni mother described how a bomb “came into the bedroom through the ceiling”.

Amnesty recently corroborated new evidence showing that the Saudi-led coalition recently fired Brazilian-manufactured rockets containing banned cluster munitions in the middle of Sa’da city in Yemen. The attack, which happened on the evening of February 15, struck three residential areas and was the third confirmed use of Brazilian cluster munitions documented in the last year.

Latifa Ahmed Mu’eed, 22, described the bombing raid, which took place while her family were asleep at home, to Amnesty International: “The bomb came into the house, into the bedroom from the ceiling ... we heard a big explosion and seconds later it exploded in the room and we got hurt. Three exploded right outside the house … The children were unhurt but in shock … My husband sustained shrapnel injuries on his foot. I hurt my left foot and we went to al-Salam hospital.

“We were forced to leave our home in Baqim when it was bombed. The bomb went right into our living room and destroyed the house. Everyone had to leave the area. The bombardment was constant. We left two-three months after the strike on our house … We made our way to Sa’da on foot. We walked for [12 miles] and I was six months pregnant at the time but then a car gave us a lift to Sa’da city.”

Despite this terrifying experience, Latifa considers her family – husband Talal al-Shihri, three-month old son Hasan and three-year old son, Hussain – fortunate to have escaped.

In addition to the thousands of Yemeni civilians who have already lost their lives, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reports that more than 7,000 civilians have been wounded since March, 2015. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recorded more than 3.27 million forcibly displaced people as a direct result of the conflict and nearly 21.2million (80 per cent of the population) are forced to rely on humanitarian assistance to survive.

Last month, the High Court in London heard a judicial review case brought by Campaign Against the Arms Trade challenging the legality of the UK Government’s arms transfers to Saudi Arabia amid the current armed conflict in Yemen. Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, Rights Watch (UK) and Oxfam all made submissions to the court.

A decision in the case is pending but regardless of the outcome, UK Government ministers should long ago have halted arms sales to Saudi Arabia – instead of ignoring the flagrant breaches of humanitarian law and needless loss of Yemeni lives.

How many more civilians need to be killed, injured, or see their property destroyed through use of these globally-banned weapons, before the international community condemns the use of cluster munitions by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and pressures coalition members to immediately become parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions?

People trapped in Yemen are suffering horrendously while many who wish to travel face the Trump travel ban, as one woman told Amnesty: “The last time I saw my husband was when we were married over a year ago. And I still can’t see him for the foreseeable future – thanks to President Trump’s travel ban. I am an American citizen. My husband, Basheer Othman, is a Yemeni national – now Trump has signed a new Executive Order which is just as bad as the first – it is nonsensical to punish the citizens of a country for their government’s dysfunction and cruelty.”