Children rights in Yemen, UN removes Arab coalition from the blacklist

June 17, 2020

On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres removed the Saudi-led coalition from the blacklist of those who killed and injured children in Yemen. In his annual report presented to the United Nations Security Council, Guterres reported that 222 children from the coalition were wounded or killed in Yemen last year, 313 by their Shiite Houthi rivals, and 96 by the Yemeni government stationed in Aden.

The UN secretary explained that Riyadh and associates will be removed from the list – the other two actors of the Yemeni conflict remain – for the “significant decrease in killings and mutilations caused by air raids” and for having implemented measures aimed at protecting the children. However, Guterres said, the coalition will be subject to a year of monitoring, and “any failure” on the decrease in the killings of children will cause it to return to the list the next year.

Riyadh and allies were on the blacklist for three years. They had been added for the first time in 2016, but had been removed shortly after by the former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon pending a closer examination. Ban Ki-Moon then accused Saudi Arabia of exerting “unacceptable” pressure after some sources revealed to the Reuters agency that the Saudis had threatened to cut funding to the UN because of its blacklisting. The Kingdom, by the way, always denied these allegations.

The accusations of having been pressured to remove Riyadh and associates from the list also arrived on time this year, and were immediately denied by the global organization. Virginia Gamba, UN envoy for children and armed conflict, was laconic: “I can answer very, very clearly: absolutely not”.

On October 5, 2017, the list included the coalition for killing and mutilate 683 minors and 38 documented attacks on schools and hospitals in 2016. Despite the accusation, the United Nations report did not want to go in conflict with Riyadh. In a passage of the text, the document underlined how the Sunni block was taking some measures to protect the lives of minors and how it was not the only one to violate the rights of the young Yemeni.

In 2016, there were already the Houthi, supported by Iran, and the government of Aden, backed by the Arab coalition. In addition to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemeni branch of the jihadist organization. Commenting on the results of the report, the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres then explained that the blacklist was not only to raise awareness but also to promote measures that can lessen the tragic difficulties that children experience in the conflict.

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