The UN just removed Saudi Arabia from a child killer blacklist

Published June 7th, 2016 - 03:32 GMT
A child stands on a bombed building in Yemen. Around 6,000 people have been killed in Yemen since March (AFP)
A child stands on a bombed building in Yemen. Around 6,000 people have been killed in Yemen since March (AFP)

When the United Nations included Saudi Arabia’s coalition in Yemen in a blacklist of violators of children’s rights, it had good reason to do so.

The UN itself holds the grouping responsible for 60% of the 785 child deaths recorded last year in Yemen, where Saudi is engaged in a devastating war against Houthi rebels allied with Iran.

But while mass civilian casualties might get Saudi tipped for a blacklist, it appears they might not be enough to keep it there.

Yesterday, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released a statement announcing that the Saudi Coalition had been temporarily removed from the list in its report on children and armed conflict. It followed a complaint from Saudi officials that the figures for the deaths attributed to Saudi were “wildly exaggerated”.

Rights groups and activists were outraged that the Coalition was removed from the list as a result of Saudi pressure, and reiterated the grave violations against children that it had committed.

In a statement, Ban said that the report should “reflect the highest standards of accuracy possible” and that the UN and the coalition itself would review the numbers originally included.

Other parties in the Yemen conflict – notably pro-government militias and the Houthi rebels Saudi's coalition is fighting – have been included on the UN list for five years. 

It’s not the first time the UN has been accused of bowing to diplomatic pressure over child rights. In spite of calls from advocacy groups and more than 500 child deaths as a result of Gaza bombing, it did not include Israel on a list of those guilty of violations against children last year.


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