United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has slammed the Saudi-led coalition for “killing and maiming” children in Yemen, adding it to an annual blacklist of countries and armed groups that have violated children’s rights in conflict.
The United Nations included the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen on the blacklist of child rights violators. Among others listed are notorious groups such as Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram. The Houthis – who are on the other side of the conflict – have been on the UN list for at least five years.
“Grave violations against children increased dramatically as a result of the escalating conflict,” a report released by Ban on Thursday states.
“In Yemen, owing to the very large number of violations attributed to the two parties, the Houthis/Ansar Allah and the Saudi Arabia-led coalition are listed for killing and maiming and attacks on schools and hospitals,” the secretary-general stated in the document.
According to the report, the coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen last year, killing 510 people and wounding 667 others.
The coalition was also behind half of the attacks carried out on schools and hospitals in Yemen.
The UN report added the coalition to its blacklist of groups that “engage in the recruitment and use of children, sexual violence against children, the killing and maiming of children, attacks on schools and/or hospitals and attacks or threats of attacks against protected personnel, and the abduction of children.”
The coalition began a military campaign against Houthi militias in March 2015. It sides with the President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, while the Houthis are aligned with ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was ousted after Yemen revolution in 2012. The conflict has left nearly 4,300 dead since March, half of them civilians, according to UN figures.
human right activist, Lama Fakih, who is a senior crisis adviser at Amnesty International, said that her organization has called on a range of consequences against the Saudi-led coalition because of their “unlawful attacks.”
“We have seen for example attacks against schools rendering them unusable so that children have not been able to start the academic year. We’ve seen the Saudis also use a banned cluster munitions which act as landmines when they are left in civilian areas and are particularly problematic for children, who mistake them for toys and move them around and end up being causalities of this weapons,” Fakih said.
She added that Amnesty International called on the states that are supplying the Saudi coalition with weapons to stop doing so.
“We believe that it is important that there is being an arms embargo against the coalition to send a clear message that these attacks must stop and that they must take their obligations under international law seriously,” Fakih said.
“It is an important step that the UN has taken to express its outrage at the numbers of children who have been killed, recruited, displaced as a result of unlawful attacks in Yemen,” Fakih said.