THE Saudi-led invasion coalition is responsible for more than half of all child deaths in Yemen, according to a leaked draft of a report by United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres.
The document, which was passed to US news agency Associated Press on Thursday, says the UN has verified that there were 1,340 child casualties last year and attributed 683 — or 51 per cent — to attacks carried out by the coalition.
It also reveals that nearly three-quarters of attacks on schools and hospitals — 38 of 52 — were perpetrated by the coalition.
Saudi Arabia and eight regional allies launched a bombing campaign against Yemen in March 2015 after former president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi — whose term had expired — was ousted by a revolt by the Shia-Houthis in alliance with former despot Ali Abdullah Saleh.
US news magazine Foreign Policy reported on Wednesday that UN special representative for children and armed conflict Virigina Gamba intends to recommend that the coalition be added to the list of countries that kill and maim children.
Last year, a UN report blamed the coalition for 60 per cent of 1,953 child deaths and injuries — prompting Saudi Arabia’s addition to the blacklist.
But former secretary-general Ban Ki Moon reversed that decision and removed mention of Saudi Arabia from the report after Riyadh threatened to cut aid funding for Palestine and other projects.
The Saudi mission to the UN insisted that the coalition maintains its position “that there is no justification whatsoever” for including its name in the report on children and armed conflict.
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