Amnesty: UN 'Caved in to Pressure' in Report on Saudi Coalition Child Deaths

The international community has caved in to political pressure by watering down criticism of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s grave violations of international law in the UN Secretary-General’s annual Children and Armed Conflict report, said Amnesty International.

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting in Yemen was Thursday placed on a UN blacklist for killing and maiming children, drawing fresh calls from rights groups to step up pressure on Riyadh over the conflict.

The group was briefly included on the annual list of shame last year before a threat by Saudi Arabia to cut off its funding to UN programs forced a reversal, AFP reported.

In 2016, the coalition was responsible for 683 child casualties and for 38 verified attacks on schools and hospitals, said a report released along with the list as an annex.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres spoke to Saudi King Salman ahead of the release of the list, which UN officials had shared with Riyadh months earlier to avoid a repeat of the clash that followed the blacklisting by his predecessor Ban Ki-moon last year.

Ban removed the coalition from the list and publicly complained that it was unacceptable for countries to "exert undue pressure" on the United Nations to avoid scrutiny.

In a statement, Guterres stressed that the blacklist was "not only to raise awareness" but also to "promote measures that can diminish the tragic plight of children in conflict."

The UN chief said he was encouraged that some governments were taking steps to spare children from the horrors of conflict and voiced hope that "more will follow."

 

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