Saudi-led coalition killed hundreds of children in Yemen, UN report claims

This year’s UN report that blacklists violators of children’s rights has accused the Saudi-led coalition of killing hundreds of children in Yemen, reports suggest.

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The Saudi-led military coalition waging war in Yemen is responsible for the killing of hundreds of children in the war-torn country, a new UN draft report suggests.

The report claims 51 per cent of all child deaths and injuries in Yemen last year were the result of military operations by the coalition, describing the death toll as “unacceptably high”.

“Attacks carried out by air caused over half of all child casualties, with at least 349 killed and 333 injured,” said the report, which was obtained by Reuters.

“The United Nations was informed of measures taken by the coalition in 2016 to reduce the impact of conflict on children. However, despite these measures, grave violations against children continued at unacceptably high levels in 2016.”

Despite the mounting death toll, Saudi Arabia has maintained it is working within the frameworks of international law, and its UN mission said there “no justification whatsoever” for including the coalition’s name on the blacklist.

“We trust that the United Nations will make the appropriate decision on this matter, and the positive exchange of information” on the coalition’s activities, the statement said, while declining to comment on the findings in the draft report for 2016.

More than 10,000 people have been killed and 47,700 wounded since Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened to back the internationally-recognised government in March 2015.

The United Nations has called Yemen “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.”

Houthi rebels and affiliated forces were responsible for nearly a third of the total 1,340 child casualties verified by the United Nations, the draft report added.

Last month, the United Nations was urged not to whitewash the report on violations of children’s human rights, by omitting any mention of deaths and suffering caused by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

The call by Save the Children and Watchlist follows the release of research that showed that the military coalition could have killed or maimed over 120 children in airstrikes last year.

A briefing released by both charities accused the alliance of “grave violations against children” during a series of 23 attacks last year. Each attack listed involved the bombing of a school or hospital, or the killing and maiming of children.

The UN’s last report into violations against children named Saudi Arabia on the blacklist, only to be removed a few days later after pressure from Riyadh.

The report said that the Saudi-led alliance was accountable for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen in 2015 – a claim that Riyadh described as “wildly exaggerated”.

Riyadh threatened to withdraw funding for the UN and urged its allies to do the same, causing the international body to backtrack on its report.

Save the Children say that the UN will set a dangerous precedent if it fails to blacklist the Saudi-led alliance in this year’s report.