UN must list Saudi Arabia-led coalition for violating child rights in Yemen

Khalil*, 9, and Noor*, 6, were injured after an airstrike hit their home in January.

The UN must name the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia in Yemen in its annual list of perpetrators of child rights violations, our new report says.

The joint report with Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict documents a series of deadly attacks on hospitals and medics over the last two years.

At least 160 attacks have been carried out on medical facilities and personnel in Yemen, with all warring parties implicated.

In one airstrike by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, two infants in incubators reportedly died from a lack of oxygen after a paediatric hospital in Sana’a was damaged.

Grave violations of child rights

Repeated violations by the coalition have been verified in multiple UN reports and by credible human rights organisations.

Our report calls on UN Secretary General António Guterres to add the Saudi Arabia-led coalition to his list of those responsible for grave violations of children’s rights in conflict.

Zuhair*, 13, was badly burned in an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

Appearing on the list is an international embarrassment. States or groups can usually only be removed after meeting UN-verified benchmarks for ending and preventing violations.

In 2016 then-UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon briefly listed the coalition for killing children and attacking schools and hospitals in Yemen, only to later remove it after pressure from Saudi Arabia.

Christine Monaghan, Research Officer at Watchlist, said:

“The UN Secretary-General cannot bow to pressure from Saudi Arabia, but must hold the Saudi Arabia-led coalition responsible for repeated attacks on medical facilities and staff.

“They are leading to the closure of hospitals, compromising children’s access to treatment, and increasing rates of injury and disease.”

Medical facilities out of action

The conflict has now forced more than half of Yemen’s medical facilities out of action. Those that remain open now face severe shortages of medicine and equipment.

At Yemen’s main port of Hodeidah, a de facto maritime blockade imposed by the coalition is preventing food and essential supplies from getting into the country.

Warring parties have detained aid workers and hampered the delivery of food and medicine by land.

Holding perpetrators to account

Grant Pritchard, Interim Country Director for Save the Children in Yemen, said:

“For two years bombs have been landing on hospitals, homes and schools.

“On the ground our teams are helping children who have been physically and mentally scarred, and are supporting hospitals that are now forced to hold damaged incubators together with sticking tape.

“All parties have been responsible for the unnecessary deaths of children in Yemen, and the Saudi Arabia-led coalition is among them.

“Those responsible must be held to account.”

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*Names have been changed.

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