UN ‘List of Shame’ May Go Easy on Saudi-Led Coalition
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – An upcoming UN report featuring a blacklist of child rights violators is expected to refrain from toughening criticism of the Saudi-led coalition waging war on Yemen despite a bus bombing last year that killed scores of children, according to diplomats.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is due to release the annual list of shame later this month ahead of a Security Council meeting on children and armed conflicts scheduled for August 2.
The coalition was put on the UN blacklist in 2016 and later removed after Saudi Arabia reacted furiously, threatening to cut funding to UN programs.
To appease Riyadh, the United Nations split the list into two sections in 2017 and put the coalition on "Section B" -- which highlights alleged efforts by the coalition to avoid killing and maiming children in Yemen.
According to diplomats with knowledge of the report, Guterres has received a draft recommendation from his UN envoy who determined that the coalition should remain on the separate section of the list that recognizes measures taken to avoid targeting children, AFP reported.
This recommendation comes after 40 children were killed in August last year when their bus was attacked in Sa’ada governorate. The coalition admitted that "mistakes" were made in targeting.
The UN envoy for children and armed conflict, Virgina Gamba, also recommended that the armed forces of Myanmar, Syria and South Sudan be moved to the sub-section of the list to recognize measures that they have taken to protect children, according to the diplomats.
It remains unclear if Guterres will endorse the recommendations of his envoy in his final report, but rights groups expressed dismay.
"Secretary-General Guterres should not mince words when it comes to calling out the perpetrators behind these crimes and must put all violators on a single 'list of shame'," said Adrianne Lapar, program director at Watchlist on Children and Conflict, a coalition of NGOs.
"As long as Saudi- and Emirati-led airstrikes keep killing and maiming children in Yemen, the coalition doesn't deserve any praise for its empty promises to protect them," she said.
"In 2018 and into 2019, the Saudi-led coalition continued to carry out well-documented attacks on schools and hospitals, as well as other grave violations against children in Yemen," said Louis Charbonneau, UN director for Human Rights Watch.
The coalition "should not receive undeserved praise through inclusion in section B" of the list of shame, he added.
A spokesperson from Gamba's office declined to comment, saying the final report had yet to be published.
Gamba reported to the Security Council in April that the number of verified rights violations against children in Yemen was "staggering," blaming the coalition for the violence.
Yemen’s defenseless people have been under massive attacks by a coalition led by the Saudi regime for more than four years but Riyadh has reached none of its objectives in Yemen so far.
Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out deadly airstrikes against the Houthi Ansarullah movement in an attempt to restore power to fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.
Official UN figures say that more than 15,000 people have been killed in Yemen since the Saudi-led bombing campaign began.
The Saudi war has impacted over seven million children in Yemen who now face a serious threat of famine, according to UNICEF figures. Over 6,000 children have either been killed or sustained serious injuries since 2015, UN children’s agency said. The humanitarian situation in the country has also been exacerbated by outbreaks of cholera, polio, and measles.