Saudi-led Yemen coalition pulled from UN blocklist

Source:AFP Published: 2020/6/16 17:28:40

The city view of Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, April 4, 2020. (Photo by Mohammed Mohammed/Xinhua)

Campaigners reacted angrily on Monday to the removal of the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen from a list of groups violating children's rights, in a report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

"The Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen will be delisted for the violation of killing and maiming, following a sustained significant decrease... due to air strikes," said the UN's newly-published annual report on children in conflict zones.

It said the toll had fallen since an agreement was signed in March 2019.

The coalition intervened in 2015 in Yemen to support the government against Iran-backed Houthi rebels. It has been widely blamed for civilian casualties in bombing raids that campaigners say have pushed the country deeper into crisis.

Human Rights Watch denounced Guterres for dropping the coalition from the "list of shame," saying he was "ignoring the UN's own evidence of continued grave violations against children."

Inger Ashing of Save the Children called it a "shocking decision" by Guterres. But the secretary general's envoy for children and armed conflict, Virginia Gamba, said the UN had come "under no pressure" from Saudi Arabia and that the removal from the list was based on data.

In 2016, the coalition was briefly included on the annual list before a threat by Saudi Arabia to cut off funding to UN programs forced a reversal.

In 2017, after Guterres assumed the UN leadership, the coalition was placed in a sub-section of the report created for those making efforts to avoid deaths of children. It remained there in 2018 and 2019.

The report, which reviews several conflicts worldwide each year, said 4,019 children were verified as having been killed and more than 6,000 maimed in 2019. The numbers were similar to 2018, according to the UN.



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