UN report blames Saudi Arabia for children’s deaths in Yemen

(CNN)The United Nations has placed Saudi Arabia on a blacklist for the deaths and injuries of children in the ongoing conflict in Yemen.

The annual Children in War report says the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing of rebels in Yemen led to “the killing and maiming of children with 683 child casualties.”
Last year’s draft of the Children in War report initially listed Saudi Arabia, a move that enraged the Kingdom and led to fierce lobbying and even threats to withhold funding to the UN. Saudi Arabia was eventually dropped from the list.
Now, under a different UN Secretary-General, this latest report holds the Saudi coalition responsible for 38 verified incidents of attacks on schools and hospitals in 2016.
The report groups Saudi Arabia with other countries accused of gross violations against children, including Syria and Sudan, and extremist groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram.
CNN was seeking comment from the Saudi government late Thursday.
In an opinion article for the international edition of The New York Times on Wednesday, the Saudi ambassador to the United Nations, Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi, blamed Houthi rebels in Yemen for prolonging the conflict with their “unlawful hold on power.”
The ambassador has criticized past attempts by the UN to place his country on a blacklist in the Children at War report. He is scheduled to hold a news conference at UN headquarters in New York on Friday.
Human Rights Watch praised the inclusion of Saudi Arabia in the report.
“The Secretary-General has done the right thing by including the Saudi-led coalition on his list of shame for the continuing attacks that have killed hundreds of children and destroyed dozens of schools and hospitals in Yemen” said Jo Becker, Human Rights Watch advocacy director.

August 28, 2017 -- Fatima Yasen Ibrahim is treated for cholera at IRC-supported Al Sadaqa Hospital in Aden, Yemen. Yemen is currently experiencing the largest cholera outbreak in history.

The report says 1,340 children in Yemen have been killed or seriously injured. The UN says the Saudi coalition has informed the international body of measures taken in 2016 to reduce the impact of the conflict on children, including through their rules of engagement and the establishment of a joint incident assessment team.
In a statement, the UN said the “shocking levels of killing and maiming and use of denial of humanitarian access is a serious concern for the Secretary-General.”
“The tragic fate of child victims of conflict cannot and must not leave us unmoved,” said Virginia Gamba, the Secretary-General’s special representative for children and armed conflict.
“A child killed, recruited as a soldier, injured in an attack or prevented from going to school due to a conflict is already one too many,” she said. Gamba is also scheduled to hold a news conference at the UN on Friday.
The conflict in Yemen began in early 2015, when Houthi rebels — a minority Shia group from the north of the country — drove out the US-backed government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and took over the capital of Sanaa.
The crisis escalated into a multi-sided war which allowed al Qaeda and ISIS — other enemies of the Houthis — to grow stronger amid the chaos.
The Houthis are backed by Iran; a coalition led by Saudi Arabia has conducted air raids on the country in support of Hadi’s government.
Source: CNN

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