UN removes Saudi Arabia from blacklist for violence against children

The United Nations decided to remove the Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting in Yemen from a UN report flagging entities that commit violence against children in armed conflict, a spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Monday.

Ban removed the Saudi-led coalition pending a joint review and called on the coalition to send a team to New York to provide detailed information on the cases cited in the report, said Stephane Dujarric, Ban's spokesman, in a statement.

"[Ban] accepts a proposal by Saudi Arabia that the United Nations and the Saudi-led coalition review jointly the cases and numbers cited in the text," Dujarric said.

"The secretary general shares the objective that the report reflect the highest standards of accuracy possible."

The Saudi-led coalition was listed for the first time in this year's annual UN report for killing and maiming children and attacking schools and hospitals in Yemen, where the coalition is fighting alongside the Yemeni government against Houthi rebels.

Abdallah bin Yahya al-Moallimi, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the UN, who called for the removal of the Saudi-led coalition from the list, said he was grateful to Ban for "having corrected this situation."

"This clearly vindicates the position of Saudi Arabia and the coalition members in this regard," al-Moallimi said, saying Saudi Arabia was put on the list based on incomplete and inaccurate information.

He said his country and the coalition was committed to providing the UN with "full and complete information," noting that he believed the removal of the coalition was "unconditional and irreversible."

According to the UN report, which was published on Thursday, almost 2,000 children had been killed or injured in Yemen during 2015, 60 per cent of which had been attributed to the Saudi-led coalition.

Of 101 verified attacks on schools and hospitals, almost half had been perpetrated by the coalition, the UN report said.

Human Rights Watch strongly condemned Ban's office for amending the report noting that the UN itself had documented the casualties caused by the Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen.

"The UN secretary general's office has hit a new low by capitulating to Saudi Arabia's brazen pressure and taking the country off its just published list of shame," said Philippe Bolopion, deputy director for global advocacy at Human Rights Watch.

"Yemen's children deserve better."

Last update: Tue, 07/06/2016 - 11:10
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