UN chief says Saudi coalition not protecting Yemeni children

UNITED NATIONS: Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday he still has “very strong concerns” about the protection of children in Yemen and stands by a report that saw the Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting rebels being added to a UN blacklist for killing and injuring about 1,200 children in 2015.


Ban said in June that he temporarily removed the US-backed coalition from the blacklist for violating child rights pending a joint review of cases because its supporters threatened to stop funding many UN programmes.He accused some unnamed countries of exerting unacceptable and “undue pressure.”

He told the UN Security Council that “the forward-looking review continues — and the situation on the ground will be closely monitored.”

Ban’s use of the phrase “forward-looking” indicates that the coalition is unlikely to be put back on the blacklist. Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi said in June “it is our firm belief that this de-listing is final, irreversible and unconditional.” The secretary general said he has held talks with Saudi Arabia at the highest level including with the deputy crown prince and foreign minister “to express my serious concerns about the situation on the ground and the devastating impact on children.”

Since then, he said, he has received information about measures taken by the coalition “to prevent and end grave violations against children.”

“I still have very strong concerns about the protection of Yemeni children,” he said. “We will continue our engagement to ensure that concrete measures to protect children are implemented.” Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said that “the coalition should be returned to the secretary general’s list of shame until it stops its indiscriminate bombardment of Yemen’s civilians.”