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Finland suspends arms export licences to Saudi Arabia, UAE over conflict in Yemen

The Foreign Ministry says the decision is primarily driven by the humanitarian disaster in Yemen and complies with EU guidelines.

Finnish arms supplier Patria has sold 40 AMV vehicles to the United Arab Emirates. Image: AOP

Finland’s Foreign Ministry announced that it would not grant any new arms export licences to sell materiel to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates.

In a release issued on Thursday afternoon, the ministry said that the government has discussed the matter and decided that in the current circumstances, there were no grounds for granting new export licences.

The ministry cited the alarming humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is involved in a military conflict with rebel Houthi groups. Saudi Arabia intervened in the Yemen civil conflict in 2015 and has launched deadly air strikes that have claimed many civilian lives.

Human rights groups say the civil war has disproportionately affected children, many of whom are malnourished. The United Nations has estimated that as many as 14 million people in Yemen face the threat of famine.

The decision to suspend arms sales to the region comes on the back of an increase in Finnish exports of military hardware to the Middle East.

Denmark also halts arms sales

The ministry said that the decision to suspend arms exports was based on careful consideration of the case and abides by EU arms exports criteria, which stress human rights and the preservation of regional peace, security and stability.

Earlier on Thursday, Denmark joined Germany in blocking future arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

The Danish foreign ministry said that its decision came in response to the Middle Eastern country’s role in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and its role in the conflict in Yemen.