Saudi Arabia blacklisted in UN report for killing of children in Yemen war

Saudi Arabia blacklisted in UN report for killing of children in Yemen war
Posted at 7:42 PM, Oct 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-05 16:49:15-04

(CNN) - The United Nations has placed Saudi Arabia on a blacklist for the killing and maiming of children in war.

The new controversial report says the Saudi Arabian coalition bombing of rebels in Yemen “objectively led to the listing for the killing and maiming of children with 683 child casualties."

Last year's draft report also initially listed Saudi Arabia, which enraged the Kingdom, resulting in strong 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, the new annual Children in War report says the Saudi coalition was responsible for 38 verified incidents for attacks on schools and hospitals during 2016. Saudi Arabia was credited for trying to improve the protection as opposed to other nations accused of not helping to protect children.

Saudi Arabia is lumped in with other countries accused of gross violations against children,  including Syria and Sudan, and extremist groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram.

In an opinion page article for the international edition of the New York Times on Wednesday, Saudi Arabian UN Ambassador Abdallah Y al-Mouallimi blamed Houthi rebels in Yemen for extending the conflict with their "unlawful hold on power." The ambassador in the past criticized UN attempts to place his country on a blacklist in the Children at War report. He is scheduled to hold a UN press conference on Friday afternoon.

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.

In all, 1,340 children were killed or maimed in Yemen, according to a UN statement from the secretary-general's office. Later in the statement, the UN says it was informed of measures taken in 2016 by the coalition to reduce the impact of conflict on children, including through their rules of engagement and the establishment of a joint incident assessment team.

The UN statement 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; a child killed, recruited as a soldier, injured in an attack or prevented from going school due to a conflict is already one too many," said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba.

Gamba will hold a 9 a.m. UN news conference on Friday. 

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