UN Report: US-backed Saudi Coalition Behind Most Yemen Child Casualties
June 28, 2018
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Al Jazeera
The annual "Children and Armed Conflict" report from the United Nations details the deaths of Yemeni children in the Saudi-led invasion. Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of the slain were killed by the Saudi-led coalition. The UN report verified 552 children killed in 2017 in Yemen. 67% of the child deaths were directly attributable to the Saudi coalition, predominantly the as result of Saudi airstrikes.
UN Report: Saudi Coalition Behind Most Yemen Child Casualties
67 Percent of Yemeni Children Killed in 2017 Were by Saudi Coalition
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(June 26, 2018) -- The annual "Children and Armed Conflict" report from the United Nations details the deaths of Yemeni children in the Saudi-led invasion. Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of the slain were killed by the Saudi-led coalition.
The UN report verified 552 children killed in 2017 in Yemen. 67% of those children, 370, were directly attributable to the Saudi coalition, predominantly the result of Saudi airstrikes. Saudi airstrikes killing civilians have been an ongoing problem since the invasion.
The report said 83 children were killed in actions by the Houthi rebels, with another 41 killed by fighters loyal to the Saudi-backed government. The others were killed by that government, international allies, and a handful by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
These UN reports on child casualties have been controversial in recent years because of their coverage of the Yemen conflict. Saudi Arabia has repeatedly demanded the UN retract previous statements, and at times they have. Making the statement fully publicly is also more difficult, with the US and Britain, who are backing the invasion, generally supporting keeping it secret.
UN: Saudi-led Coalition
Behind Most Yemen Child Casualties
UN report says 370 children out of a total of 552
were killed by air attacks carried out by the coalition.
(June 26, 2018) -- A Saudi-led coaltion was responsible for more than half of child deaths and injuries in war-torn Yemen last year, according to a new United Nations report exclusively obtained by Al Jazeera.
The annual Children and Armed Conflict report, which shines the spotlight on child victims around the world, found that a total of 1,316 children were killed and maimed in the Arab world's poorest country in 2017.
Saudi Arabia, together with several other Arab nations, launched a military campaign in 2015 in support of Yemen's internationally recognised government, aiming to roll back advances made by Houthi rebels after they overran much of the country in 2014.
Most countries have since withdrawn their forces from the US-backed coalition, with only Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates conducting attacks in Yemen.
The UN report was compiled by the staff of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and submitted to the Security Council on Monday night.
It verified that out of the 552 children killed (398 boys, 154 girls), the majority -- 370 -- were attributed to the coalition, which was also blamed for 300 child injuries.
The Houthis were responsible for 83 children killed and 241 wounded; the pro-government Popular Resistance group for 41 casualties; other international forces fighting for Yemen's government for 19 casualties; al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) for 10 casualties; and the Yemeni Armed Forces, among other parties, for four casualties.
Fifty-one percent of the total 1,316 casualties were caused by air attacks, the report said.
The second leading cause was ground fighting, including shelling and shooting (136 killed, 334 injured), followed by explosive remnants of war and mines (27 killed, 119 injured).
The report also accused both the Houthis and forces from the Saudi-Emirati coalition of recruiting 842 cases of child soldiers -- some as young as 11 years old. Most of the children were aged between 15 and 17, and nearly two thirds of them (534) were fighting in the ranks of the Houthi militia group.
Child soldiers were also used by the Yemeni armed forces (105) and the Security Belt Forces (142), a militia recruited by the UAE. Child soldiers were mostly used to guard checkpoints and government buildings, patrol, or for fetching food and water and bringing equipment to military positions. The number of combatants fighting for different parties was 76.
The report includes an addendum that names the groups and parties that are responsible for the killing and wounding of children.
Speaking from the UN headquarters in New York, Al Jazeera's diplomatic correspondent James Bays said that the report includes condemnations of lots of different armed groups and some governments.
"What is most notable is that the Saudi-led coalition is listed as one of the parties that commit grave violations affecting children in situations of armed conflict," Bays said.
"Saudi Arabia fought very hard not to get listed last year, and they came up with this caveat that they're putting measures in place to try to change the situation to protect children. That does beg the question though, [if] for two years running they've improved the protection of children, why are they still killing them?"
'Alarming' Rates of Child Soldiers
The other country that fought not to be on the list and succeeded is Israel, but Bays said it wasn't clear whether that was the result of a combined Israeli-US pressure.
"Fifteen children were killed by Israeli security forces in 2017 but Israel does not significantly get a listing as one of those parties that should be put in this blacklist," he said.
Besides Yemen, the report also said that the number of verified cases of the recruitment and use of children in Somalia (2,127), South Sudan (1,221), the Syrian Arab Republic (961) persisted at alarming levels.
In countries like the Central African Republic, the recruitment of child soldiers quadrupled to 299 compare with 2016, with 196 boys and 103 girls affected, some as young as 8 years of age.
Saudis Reject UN Blacklisting Over Yemen Child Deaths
Saudi Envoy Says Planes Exercise 'Maximum Degree of Care'
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(October 6, 2017) -- Saudi Arabia is complaining on Friday after winding up on the UN blacklist for violence against children in warzones related to their attacks on Yemen. The report blamed the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen for at least 683 child casualties in 2016.
Saudi officials complained their inclusion was "misleading," but offered no evidence to the contrary. Saudi Ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi insists that Saudi warplanes exercise the "maximum degree of care."
Which is a claim that is unlikely to convince anybody. Since attacking Yemen in 2015, the Saudis have been implicated in a massive number of civilian deaths in airstrikes against populated areas. Repeated attacks against schools, oftentimes repeatedly hitting the same schools multiple times, underscores the risk children are under during the air war.
It was this same sort of "maximum care" that landed the Saudis on the same list last year, though after browbeating the UN for a few days they were "temporarily removed," pending an investigation. There's no sign the investigation ever happened, and then-Secretary General Ban Ki-moon complained the Saudis were exerting undue influence on the list.
Saudi threats to defund the UN, and support from the US, got them off that list last year, but it remains to be seen if they'll be able to pull that same trick again a year later, after countless more deaths and countless more reports on reckless targeting.
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