Yemen: UN has 'caved in to pressure' in report on Saudi coalition child deaths

Report says that 683 children were killed or injured by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen in 2016

UK still selling billions of pounds worth of arms to Saudi Arabia

‘While we welcome the overdue listing of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the CAAC report, it is a shame that the UN caved in to pressure and included it in a new category specifically designed to limit condemnation of the coalition’ - Sherine Tadros

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.
 
According to the Children and Armed Conflict report, 683 children were killed or injured by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen in 2016.

However, as a result of diplomatic pressure from Saudi Arabia, the report contains a new category that acknowledges the efforts of the coalition to “put in place measures during the reporting period to improve the protection of children”.

Amnesty has seen no evidence of such measures and believes the report is underplaying the suffering of hundreds of Yemeni children. In recent weeks, Amnesty has confirmed the use of a US-manufactured bomb by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in an August attack that killed seven children.

According to UNICEF’s latest Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism figures, at least 1,595 children were killed and 2,542 others injured in Yemen between 26 March 2015 and 31 March 2017. The Saudi-led coalition is responsible for the majority of these child casualties.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia was included in the UN’s Children and Armed Conflict report but was later removed by then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon following intense diplomatic pressure.

Sherine Tadros, Head of Amnesty International’s UN office in New York, said:

“While we welcome the overdue listing of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the CAAC report, it is a shame that the UN caved in to pressure and included it in a new category specifically designed to limit condemnation of the coalition.

“Every time the United Nations makes concessions that allow perpetrators of crimes under international law to evade criticism or justice, it emboldens others to commit violations that cause immense misery to people around the world.

“World powers should do everything possible to keep the pressure on states that blatantly disregard children’s lives. The USA and other states that supply arms for use by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen must stop doing so and the United Nations Security Council should impose an arms embargo to bring an end to such horrific abuses.”

Last week the UN Human Rights Council agreed a resolution authorising the establishment of group of international experts to investigate abuses by all parties to the conflict in Yemen. 

UK arms to Saudi Arabia

Last year, Amnesty published evidence showing the Saudi-led coalition had used UK-manufactured cluster munitions in northern Yemen, as well as evidence of US and Brazilian cluster munitions being used by coalition forces. One UK cluster bomb had apparently malfunctioned and left scores of deadly unexploded “bomblets” strewn over a wide area near a farm in Al-khadhra village in Hajjah governorate, six miles from the Saudi border. After months of denial, the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon finally told the House of Commons that Saudi Arabia had admitted using UK-manufactured cluster munitions. The previous year, a Yemeni civilian was killed by a British-manufactured cruise missile used by the Saudi-led coalition in an attack on a ceramics factory in Sana’a governorate. 

Since the conflict began in March 2015, the UK has sold £3.8 billion pounds worth of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, including dozens of BAE Systems-manufactured Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft and related bombs and missiles.

Arms embargo needed

Amnesty is calling for the immediate implementation of a comprehensive embargo to ensure that no party to the conflict in Yemen is supplied with weapons, munitions, military equipment and technology that can be used in the conflict. 

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