EURO MP Alyn Smith yesterday called for a European Union weapons embargo against Saudi Arabia to allow EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini to explore the legality of the EU-Saudi arms trade.

The country is currently leading air strikes against armed anti-government groups in Yemen in a series of raids thought to have claimed around 6,000 lives.

The campaign began in the famine-struck Saudi neighbour – one of the poorest in the world – nine months ago and earlier this week Medecins Sans Frontiers said the bombs took out a medical facility in the village of Al Khashabeh, leaving patients critically injured.

The United Nations said almost 75 per cent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen during the second quarter of the year were caused by Saudi-led air strikes, compared with 18 per cent of child deaths and 17 per cent of injuries caused by rebel Houthi fighters. According to a 2013 parliamentary report, the British Government granted exports licences for arms to Saudi Arabia worth almost £4 billion in the five years prior and Save the Children has condemned the United Kingdom for its relationship with the gulf nation.

In a report released earlier this week, Edward Santiago, the charity’s Yemen director, said: “The UK prides itself on being a world leader on responding to humanitarian crises, yet its reluctance to publicly condemn the human cost of conflict in Yemen gives the impression that diplomatic relations and arms sales trump the lives of Yemen’s children.”

Yesterday SNP politician Smith – who is also urging officials to abandon the imminent execution of more than 50 prisoners – said: “A thorough examination of the legality of UK and EU arms trade with Riyadh is well overdue.

“The approved UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia are worth almost £4 billion and must be halted while we properly consider their legality.

“The government of Saudi Arabia is not only reported responsible for bombing of civilians in Yemen and in doing so may have contravened international humanitarian law.

“Saudi authorities are at this very moment preparing to execute some 52 prisoners at once, including several juveniles arrested following their participation in peaceful protests.

“According to an Amnesty International report Saudi has executed at least 175 people in the past year, at a rate of one every two days. The use of the death penalty is ghastly in all circumstances. “It is essential that Saudi authorities support a political, peaceful response to calls for dialogue in Saudi Arabia.

“Turning a blind eye, and indeed aiding and abetting continued abuses will not encourage dialogue it will entrench repressive policies.”

Meanwhile Smith, who grew up in Saudi city Riyadh and retains close links with the Middle East, has written to a senior advisor to the king in a bid to prevent the killings of 52 death row inmates, including juveniles.

Dr Mohammed bin Amin Al Jefri is Vice President of the Majlis as-Shura, a consultative council appointed to advise the monarch.

The appointed body is considered the kingdom’s closest thing to a parliament and, following a meeting in Brussels in October, Smith and Al Jefri agreed to have a “respectful dialogue based on facts”.

Smith said: “I consider myself a friend of the Saudi people, and it is that friendship that obligates me to be frank in my criticism of the policy of the regime.

“Saudi’s human rights record speaks for itself and the UK, and EU, must not pretend beheadings, imprisonment of political dissidents and human rights activists are not happening.”

According to Reprieve, six youths arrested at peaceful protests in the country’s Eastern Province are among those set to be executed, including juveniles Ali al Nimr, Dawoud al-Marhoon and Abdullah al-Zaher.

The human rights group says all three were tortured into making false confessions that were used to convict them.

It is understood the executions will take place in nine cities on the same day, with preparations made within the fortnight.

Government critic Sheikh Nimr, the uncle of Ali al Nimr, is also thought to be among the group.