United Nations removes Saudi-led coalition from child rights blacklist

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaks during the opening ceremony of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul Turkey

The move comes after the United Nations published a report on Thursday stating that the coalition for “60 per cent of child deaths and injuries last year” in Yemen, prompting strong protests from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

“We are asking that this report be corrected immediately so it does not reflect the accusations that have been made against the coalition and Saudi Arabia in particular”, Saudi Arabia’s U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi told reporters.

The meeting was held one day after members of the government arrived in Aden from Saudi Arabia following more than one year in exile due to the ongoing conflict in Yemen. This came after Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United Nations Abdullah Al-Muallami and the ambassadors of some of the countries in the coalition protested against it being mentioned in the report.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday agreed to remove a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen from a blacklist of militant organizations the worldwide body says are complicit in numerous child human rights abuses – at least pending the outcome of further investigation.

It is clear how many child prisoners are being held, but Yemeni political sources say that the Houthis and the government submitted in late May a list of nearly 7,000 names of prisoners they say are being held by the other side. It also said the coalition carried out half the attacks on schools and hospitals.

Ansarullah’s leader pledged that the movement will remain steadfast in the face of Saudi Arabia’s military onslaught against Yemen.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during the opening ceremony of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, May 23, 2016.

The coalition had been listed in the appendix of the U.N’s annual report on children and armed conflict, under “parties that kill or maim children”, and “parties that engage in attacks on schools and/or hospitals”.

Mr Ban’s spokesman said the coalition ha been removed from the list “pending the conclusions of the joint review”.

Over 80 percent of Yemen’s population is considered in need of humanitarian assistance following months of war, with an estimated 14.4 million people deemed by the be food insecure.

The removal of the coalition from the blacklist was “irreversible and unconditional”, he said, adding that “We were wrongly placed on the list”.

He criticised the United Nations report about Yemeni children for its “double standards” and slammed the worldwide organisation for overlooking Israel’s crimes against Palestinian children. He also accused them of indiscriminately targeting women, children and the elderly in Yemen.

Saudi officials said the report would not help peace talks under way in Kuwait, and would “complicate the mission” of the UN’s envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

The source reiterated that member states of the Saudi-led Arab pro-legitimacy coalition in Yemen are fully committed to the worldwide law and global humanitarian law, stressing that the main task of the coalition is to protect civilians, including children, the restoration of legitimacy, and providing humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people.

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