UN blacklists Arab coalition for child deaths in Yemen

Force blamed for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in 2015 for inclusion in list which also features Houthis.

The UN has blacklisted the Arab coalition in Yemen for causing deaths and injuries to hundreds of children.

The coalition of 10 Arab countries, assembled by Saudi Arabia last year, was blamed for 60 percent of the child deaths and injuries in 2015 in air strikes that killed 510 and wounded 667.

In Friday’s report, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, called the situation on the ground “worrisome”, adding that Yemen had witnessed “six times more children killed and maimed [in 2015] compared to 2014”.

“Owing to the very large number of violations … the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition are listed for killing and maiming and attacks on schools and hospitals,” Ban said.

The report also noted a “five-fold increase in the number of children recruited [by armed groups]”.

Of a list of 762 verified cases of recruitment of child soldiers, 72 percent were attributed to the Houthis, 15 percent to pro-government forces and 9 percent to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Life-threatening malnutrition

The Houthis have been on the UN blacklist for at least five years and are considered “persistent perpetrators”.

The 15-month conflict in Yemen has taken a horrifying toll on the country’s youth, with UNICEF warning that an estimated 320,000 children face life-threatening malnutrition.

It also estimates that 82 percent of the population is now in desperate need of humanitarian aid, with nearly half of Yemen’s 22 provinces on the verge of famine.

The coalition launched its air campaign to push back the Houthis in March 2015, but the rebels still control the capital and many parts of the country.

The Houthis, who hail from the northern highlands and champion the interests of the Zaidi Shia community, insist they are fighting to defend themselves against government aggression and marginalisation.

There has been mounting international pressure to end the Yemen war, which the UN estimates has killed more than 6,400 people and displaced 2.8 million.

Other countries

The UN report blacklists groups that “engage in the recruitment and use of children, sexual violence against children, the killing and maiming of children, attacks on schools and/or hospitals and attacks or threats of attacks against protected personnel, and the abduction of children”.

Along with warring parties in Yemen, the UN named armed groups in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR), Iraq, Mali, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Colombia, Nigeria and the Philippines.

The report cited a deadly US air strike on a hospital run by medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Kunduz, Afghanistan, although it said the attack was carried out by “international forces” and did not blacklist the United States.

Government forces in Afghanistan, DRC, Somalia, Myanmar, South Sudan, Sudan, and Syria were named on the blacklist.

More than 10 million children urgently need humanitarian assistance [Reuters]
More than 10 million children urgently need humanitarian assistance [Reuters]
Source: Al Jazeera