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Amnesty: UN ‘Caved In’ to Saudi Pressure to Ignore Child Deaths in Yemen

 

New York (Hadramout 21) AFP

 

  • Earlier this week, the United Nations blacklisted the Saudi-led coalition in
  • Yemen for killing 683 children in 2016
  • However, the report placed the coalition in a specialized category, implying that the coalition had tried to prevent child deaths
  • The decision comes after the U.N. previously reversed a move to blacklist Saudi Arabia following pressure from Riyadh.
  • Reports at the time said that the Saudi government had threatened to withdraw U.N. funding


U.N. officials have blacklisted the Saudi-led coalition attacking Yemen for killing hundreds of children but NGO groups claim that the report is watered down due to pressure from Riyadh.

NGOs believe that the category has been put in place as a result of diplomatic pressure from Saudi Arabia and that no such child protections exist.

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“While we welcome the overdue listing of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the CAAC report, it is a shame that the U.N. caved in to pressure and included it in a new category specifically designed to limit condemnation of the coalition,” said Sherine Tadros, Head of UN office in New York for Amnesty International.

“The USA and other states that supply arms for use by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen must stop doing so and the United Nations Security Council should impose an arms embargo to bring an end to such horrific abuses,” she added.

 
 

The news comes after the coalition was blacklisted briefly before being removed after the country allegedly threatened to cut some U.N. funding, according to a Reuters report.

The Saudi-led military group was involved in 38 verified attacks on schools and hospitals in 2016, the U.N. said.

The Children and Armed Conflict report found that 683 children were killed by coalition forces.

The U.N. document also said Houthi rebels were responsible for 414 child casualties.

U.N. secretary-general Antonio Guterres spoke with Saudi King Salman by phone on Wednesday. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “They had a very positive discussion on issues of mutual interest, including the situation in the Middle East and beyond.”

Human Rights Watch has called for an end to arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the wake of the latest report.

“The coalition needs to stop making empty promises to exercise caution, take concrete action to stop these deadly unlawful attacks in Yemen, and allow desperately needed fuel and aid to reach those in need,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

“Until this happens, governments should suspend all Saudi weapons sales,” she added.

Earlier this year, U.N. sanctions monitors reported to the Security Council that the Saudi-led coalition had carried out attacks in Yemen that “may amount to war crimes.”

However, many believe that the latest U.N. report doesn’t go far enough in condemning child deaths at the hands of the Saudi-led coalition.

This year’s report placed the Saudi coalition, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Sudan, in a specialized category which claimed that the group had attempted to prevent child deaths.

The news comes in the wake of a $3bn deal between Moscow and Riyadh, which will see Saudi supplied with Russia’s most advanced air defense missile system, the S400 Triumph. 

Yemen has been rocked by more than two years of civil war in which President Abd-Rabu Mansour Hadi’s government, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, is battling Houthis rebels.

More than 10,000 people have been killed and the conflict has ruined the economy and pushed millions to the brink of famine as the country battles a severe cholera outbreak.

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