Italian unions refuse to load Saudi ship carrying weapons to Yemen

Workers on strike prevent a Saudi ship from loading cargo in Genoa
Workers on strike prevent a Saudi ship from loading cargo in Genoa Copyright REUTERS/Massimo Pinca
Copyright REUTERS/Massimo Pinca
By Sinead Barry with Reuters
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The ship was previously prevented by protestors from being loaded in a French port.


In protest against proxy powers behind the conflict in Yemen, Italian union workers refused to load electricity generators onto a Saudi Arabian ship carrying weapons on Monday.

The 'Bahri-Yanbu' was blocked from collecting arms in the French port of Le Havre by protests from humanitarian groups earlier this month. The arms which remain on board were loaded in Antwerp, Belgium.

Unions in Genoa, northern Italy have attempted to prevent the boat from docking. Despite their efforts however, the ship docked early Monday morning, and was met by a small group of protesters on the quay.

According to human rights advocates, the weapons on board the Bahri-Yanbu violate a U.N. Treaty as there is a risk that the weapons will be used against civilians. The United Nations have previously said that Saudi Arabia may have committed war crimes in the Yemen conflict. If this is true, then these arms transfers are illegal say protesters.

"We will not be complicit in what is happening in Yemen" declared union leaders.

The Yemen Civil War has been on going since 2014 between Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and government forces, now led by a coalition of Arab states.

UN relief chief Mark Lowcock has said that approximately 360,000 children in Yemen are suffering severe acute malnutrition.

Both sides are reported to have "obstructed desperately needed humanitarian assistance for civilians in need."

In spite of much secrecy masking the extent of the west's involvement in the Yemen war, arms from the U.S, UK, Finland, Belgium, France, and others have reportedly been used in the conflict.

In recent weeks, three French journalists have been threatened with prison sentences for "publishing reports... about the use of French weaponry in Yemen."

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