UN drops Saudi Arabia-led coalition from blacklist

The Saudi-led coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen last year, killing 510 and wounding 667 others, with half the attacks on schools and hospitals.

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Girls demonstrate against the Saudi-led coalition outside the offices of the United Nations in Yemen's capital Sanaa August 11, 2015.

On the complaint of Saudi Arabia, the United Nations has removed the Kingdom-led coalition, fighting in Yemen, from its blacklist. The coalition was marked on the list for children deaths and injuries during military offences.

The world body’s report on children and armed conflict, released last Thursday, said the coalition was responsible for 60 percent of the child deaths and injuries in Yemen last year, killing 510 and wounding 667 others, with half the attacks being on schools and hospitals.

"Pending the conclusions of the joint review, the secretary-general removes the listing of the coalition in the report's annex," Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

Children look on as they step out from their tent at a camp for internally displaced people near Sanaa, Yemen, May 24, 2016.

However, Saudi Arabia’s version is different on this issue. The country’s UN Ambassador, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, told media that "…this removal is final." The removal of the coalition from the blacklist was “irreversible and unconditional,” he said, adding that "We were wrongly placed on the list."

Mouallimi also contested the authenticity of the UN report, saying that the figures in the UN report was “wildly exaggerated” and that “the most up-to-date equipment in precision targeting” was used. The ambassador said that Saudi Arabia had not been consulted prior to the publication of this year's report.

The Saudi-led coalition began a military campaign in Yemen in March, last year, with the aim of preventing Houthi rebels and forces loyal to Yemen's former President Ali Abdullah Saleh from taking power.

Some 6,000 people, about half of them civilians, have been killed in Yemen since last March, according to the UN.

The Houthis, Yemen government forces and pro-government militia have been on the UN blacklist for at least five years and is considered "persistent perpetrators." Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is also on the blacklisted entities.

The UN had omitted Israel and Palestinian Hamas from the blacklist. The world body also criticised Israel over its 2014 military operations.

"After giving a similar pass to Israel last year, the UN Secretary-General’s office has hit a new low by capitulating to Saudi Arabia’s brazen pressure," said Philippe Bolopion, deputy director for global advocacy at Human Rights Watch.

TRTWorld and agencies