SNP MP calls on UK government to clear British-made cluster bombs inYemen

The UK government should take responsibility for clearing Yemen of unexploded British-made cluster bombs used in its civil war, an SNP MP has said.

Margaret Ferrier called on the Government to "clean up its own mess" and "show an appropriate level of responsibility" by committing to rid of the country of the munitions.

In December, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon confirmed UK-supplied cluster bombs had been used by Saudi Arabian-led forces in the war.

He told MPs a limited number of BL-755 cluster munitions exported from the UK in the 1980s were dropped by the Arab coalition in January.

Prior to Mr Fallon's admission, media reports - including by ITV News - had suggested cluster bombs made in the UK were being used.

A photograph of a British-made IBL755s shown to ITV News by a Houthi fighter. Credit: ITV News

In November, Saudi Arabia denied their use and claimed the photographs weapons seen by ITV News were "manipulation" and relics from a previous conflict.

Cluster bombs are designed to release dozens of smaller bombs over a wide area, but the smaller munitions do not always explode, posing a major risk to returning civilians.

They were prohibited in 2010 in an international treaty signed by Britain.

Remains of a cluster bomb that claimed the lives of three members of a mine clearance team Credit: ITV News

Speaking during a Commons debate on the conflict, Ms Ferrier, the MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, said UK foreign policy "needs to put the innocent civilians of Yemen first."

She said: "Will the UK Government take sole responsibility for ensuring that any and all UK-produced cluster munitions dropped in Yemen are cleared, working alongside national de-mining institutions including the Yemen Executive Mine Action Centre and increasing the direct funding they receive from the UK as necessary?"

"In short, what I am asking of the Government is for an undertaking to clean up its own mess and to show an appropriate level of responsibility," she added.

Saudi Arabia has told the Government it will not use further BL-755s while the UK has requested the Saudis destroy the remaining stock of cluster bombs.

MPs have called for an independent investigation into allegations made against both sides of breaches of international humanitarian law in Yemen.