(New York) – The United Nations secretary-general should immediately return the Saudi-led coalition to his “list of shame” for violations against children in Yemen, Human Rights Watch and 19 other organizations said today in a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Various parties to the conflict in Yemen have committed violations of international humanitarian law since the coalition military campaign began in March 2015. The UN Panel of Experts identified 119 separate coalition sorties that it determined were unlawful. Nongovernmental organizations have also documented over 50 indiscriminate or disproportionate coalition airstrikes against civilian objects, including houses, markets, schools, hospitals, and clinics, resulting in hundreds of civilian deaths. Saudi Arabia and other coalition members have shown no willingness to credibly investigate alleged war crimes.
The secretary-general’s annexes to his annual reports on children and armed conflict, also known as the “list of shame,” lists both governments and armed groups that commit grave violations against children in armed conflict. The grave violations include killing and maiming; the recruitment and use of children as soldiers; abduction; sexual violence; attacks on schools and hospitals; and denial of humanitarian access. The Saudi-led coalition was listed for both killing and maiming and attacks on schools and hospitals. The list includes other parties to the armed conflict in Yemen, namely Ansar Allah, known as the Houthis; Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP); Yemeni government security forces; and pro-government militias, including the Salafists and Popular Committees. None of these groups have been removed from the list.
“If the Saudi-led coalition wants to get off the ‘list of shame,’ it should stop killing and maiming children and bombing schools and hospitals in Yemen,” said Becker. “Capitulating to the demands of Saudi Arabia undermines Ban’s human rights initiatives and taints his legacy.”
The organizations signing the letter include:
Center for Public Health and Human Rights, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Child Rights International Network
Child Soldiers International
Defenders of Medical Impartiality
Defense for Children International
Doctors for Human Rights (UK)
Global Justice Center
Human Rights Watch
International Council of Nurses
International Health Protection Initiative
Maternal & Childhealth Advocacy International
Physicians for Human Rights
Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative
Terre des Hommes International Federation
War Child International