In the annual report of the United Nations Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict for the year 2015, the Saudi government was identified as responsible for more than half of the killings of children in Yemen.
The United Nations verified a sixfold increase in the number of children killed and maimed compared with 2014, totalling 1,953 child casualties (785 children killed and 1,168 injured). More than 70 per cent were boys. Of the casualties, 60 per cent (510 deaths and 667 injuries) were attributed to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and 20 per cent (142 deaths and 247 injuries) to the Houthis. In 324 incidents, the responsible party could not be identified.
In the annex to the report Saudi government was included in a list of forces harming children all over the World.
Naturally, Saudi Arabian government protested. What came as a surprise was the succumbing to pressure by Ban Ki-moon.
This turn around under pressure was widely condemned.
Human rights groups have condemned a UN decision to remove Saudi Arabia from a blacklist of countries and groups accused of violating children’s rights, after the Saudis’ campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen was blamed for causing 60% of child deaths in the conflict.
Human Rights Watch accused Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, of giving in to “political manipulation” in the wake of furious protests from Riyadh. It said the UN had executed a “shocking flip-flop”.
Amnesty International decried “blatant pandering”, which it said “damages the credibility of the UN as a whole”. Oxfam said the world body’s decision to retract its findings was “a moral failure.”
Whether included in a blacklist or not, Saudi regime cannot escape the blame for being the prime instigator of violence in the region.