MPs are calling for an independent investigation into the war in Yemen amid a growing humanitarian crisis facing 20 million civilians in the country.

Members of the Commons’ International Development Committee make the plea today as they publish the findings of their inquiry into the Saudi-led bombing campaign which has left thousands of people dead and 80 per cent of the population facing hunger.

The report says schools, hospitals and water and nutrition supplies are on the brink of collapse while civilians bear the brunt of the protracted military action. It warns too of the war’s impact on children.

“We are gravely concerned about the toll the conflict in Yemen is having on children and young people,” it said.

“Not only are they suffering from deaths and injuries, and severe food insecurity, but many have lost their schools and many have been recruited to armed groups. We fear the psychological effects of witnessing traumatic events at a young age will haunt them for many years to come.”

The UK Government has licensed £6.7 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia since David Cameron took office in 2010, including £2.8bn since the bombing of Yemen began in March last year.

“The Yemeni population is really suffering,” said Stephen Twigg, chair of the International Development Committee (IDC).

“Ministers must continue to apply pressure on all parties to agree to the next round of peace talks and ensure they are inclusive and represent the needs of the Yemeni population.”

The SNP’s Dr Lisa Cameron added: “The UK Government has escaped scrutiny on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and involvement in military action in Yemen for too long – with world attention on the Middle East focused on Syria and Iraq, the conflict in Yemen is overlooked.”

The MP’s call comes after members of a separate Commons’ committee – the Commons’ Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC), announced they would investigate the use of British arms in the conflict.

That move came after members of the European Parliament called for an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia in response to its bombing of Yemen. Today’s report described the conflict as “a forgotten crisis” and warned how it had dramatically escalated in a short period.

“Despite the seriousness of the situation, until very recently Yemen was a forgotten crisis, often overlooked because of events elsewhere in the Middle East,” it said.

“But the intensity and severity of the crisis merit the international community’s attention. Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said in August 2015 that Yemen, after five months of conflict, looked like Syria after five years.”

While the Westminster Government has suggested Saudi Arabia should conduct its own investigations into breaches, the committee said the inquiry should be carried out “immediately” and independently.

“The Government should withdraw its opposition to calls for an independent international inquiry into alleged abuses of international humanitarian law in Yemen, and should do all it can to ensure the creation of such an inquiry,” it concluded.

“The growing evidence of Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeting civilians and civilian objects in Yemen, in violation of international humanitarian law, raises serious questions over the Government’s continued licensing of arms transfers to Saudi Arabia.”

Saudi Arabia began bombing in Yemen a year ago to support the Yemeni president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was under threat from Houthi forces aligned with Iran.

Since then more than 5,800 people have been killed. Amnesty International says more than 80 per cent of the population – 21 million people – are in need of humanitarian aid, including two million children.

The International Development Committee commended the Government for acting swiftly to reach people in need and for contributing £85 million so far. However, it said the Government should consider “the paradox at play” over arms sales to Saudi Arabia.