UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has sparked outrage among campaigners over his decision yesterday to remove the Saudi-led coalition against Yemen from a UN blacklist, which had previously named and shamed the kingdom for killing and injuring children in the war-torn country.
According to Guterres’ annual report to the UN Security Council, the US-backed coalition killed or injured 222 children in Yemen last year. He also claimed that the Houthi forces were responsible for 313 such casualties while forces aligned with the internationally-recognised Yemeni government caused 96 casualties, yet both remain on the annual children and armed conflict blacklist.
Guterres said the coalition would “be delisted for the violation of killing and maiming, following a sustained significant decrease in killing and maiming due to air strikes” and the implementation of measures aimed at protecting children. But he added that the coalition would be subjected to one year of monitoring and “any failure” to further decrease child casualties would result in it being listed again next year, reports Reuters.
The move by the UN was criticised by Human Rights Watch, which accused the General-Secretary of “ignoring the UN’s own evidence of continued grave violations against children”. The Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict also said that “by absolving the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition of any responsibility for killing and maiming children in Yemen, the UN Secretary-General has left children vulnerable to further attacks”.
Meanwhile a member of the Supreme Political Council, which is the executive body of the Houthi-aligned government based in Sanaa, voiced his own condemnation on Twitter today and referred to the UN’s decision as an “international crime”.
“Delisting Saudi Arabia from the annual UN report confirms the chaos in the world body and its disregard for humanitarian standards,” said Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi.
Al-Houthi also pointed out that delisting coincided with a “new massacre” committed by the Saudi-led coalition; two air strikes in the Saadah province which resulted in the deaths of 13 citizens, including women and children.