Yemeni children have strongly denounced the United Nations’ support for the Saudi-led coalition, after it failed to single out Riyadh and its allies for their crimes against kids in the war-torn country in its latest report, saying that the world body has, through its actions, made itself their enemy.
A large number of children Tuesday staged a demonstration in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, blasting the UN for failing to add the Saudi-led coalition forces to its “list of shame,” an addendum to the latest UN report that singles out parties who fail to keep children safe during the conflict.
According to Yemen-based television network Al-Masirah, the Yemeni children in a statement censured the world body for “blaming the oppressed and acquitting the oppressor” in lieu of money, while holding both sides of the war responsible for violence against children in the war-ravaged country.
In its annual Children and Armed Conflict report, released on Monday, the UN said at least 19,379 children affected by war in 2020 were victims of grave violations such as armed recruitment or rape.
“Escalation of conflict, armed clashes and disregard for international humanitarian law and international human rights law had a severe impact on the protection of children,” the report noted.
The highest number of grave violations, according to the report, were reported in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.
The report, however, failed to highlight grave violations committed by the Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen, drawing sharp criticism.
“We emphasize that the United Nations has made itself the enemy of Yemeni children and the institutions supported by this organization are complicit in all crimes committed against us,” it added.
The statement further added that Yemenis know who the killer is, who is “trying to fight us, kill us, keep us hungry,” while accusing the UN chief of “being an equal partner” in their suffering.
Saudi Arabia, backed by the Western powers and regional allies, launched the devastating bombing campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with an aim to plant a pro-Riyadh government in the country.
The prolonged war has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis while displacing millions of others. It has also destroyed the country’s vital infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, leading to the worst humanitarian crisis.
Yemen’s National Salvation government has also strongly denounced the UN decision of removing Saudi Arabia from the blacklist for the second year in a row.
Foreign Minister Hisham Sharaf said the UN was condemning the victim and condoning the executioner.
“Although the UN must defend human rights, including children, as stated in its charter, it turns a blind eye to the [Saudi] targeting of residential centers, killing and wounding over 8,000 children and targeting schools and hospitals by the countries of the US-Saudi aggression,” he said in a statement on Monday.
Sharaf said Guterres did not take into account reports by dozens of regional and international human rights organizations, disregarding all video evidence and documented data of Saudi Arabia’s targeting of residential areas in Yemen.
He further added that it will embolden Riyadh to continue committing grave violations against the children of Yemen and make UN officials complicit in the crimes.
Meanwhile, the UK-based children’s advocacy organization Save the Children, in a statement on Monday, also slammed the UN for failing to add the Saudi-led coalition to the “list of shame.”
The rights group called it “a disheartening decision,” saying the UN chief “again failed” to add the Saudis and Emiratis to the list.
“Despite killing and maiming at least 194 children in Yemen in 2020 according to UN verified data, the Saudi and Emirati led coalition gets a green light to continue destroying children’s lives in Yemen,” the statement said.
“It was taken off the list last year, with a commitment by the secretary general to relist them unless there was a ‘sustained significant decrease in killing and maiming.’ By not relisting the coalition, Guterres sends the message that reducing the number of child casualties to about two hundred is ‘good enough’ progress,” it added.
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