Thursday, 9 June 2016

20 Rights Groups Urge UN to Put Saudi Yemen Coalition Back on Blacklist - The Guardian: Saudi Arabia Given a Free Pass to Bomb Schools and Hospitals in Yemen

20 Rights Groups Urge UN to Put Saudi Yemen Coalition Back on Blacklist
Twenty human rights groups urged United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday to put a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition back on a UN blacklist for killing and maiming children in Yemen because the evidence against it was “overwhelming.”
Destroyed house in Yemen
The United Nations removed the coalition from its annual blacklist on Monday pending a joint review by the pair. Riyadh, a key UN donor, had threatened to cut off funding, diplomatic sources said on Tuesday. Saudi Arabia denied using threats.
The letter to Ban on Wednesday, signed by groups including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Oxfam, criticized Ban, who steps down at the end of the year, saying he capitulated to Saudi Arabia and tainted his legacy.
“If the Saudi-led Coalition wants to be removed from the list, it should stop killing and maiming children and bombing schools and hospitals in Yemen – the violations for which it was listed,” the groups wrote.
The UN report, released last Thursday, said the coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen last year, martyring 510 and wounding 667, and half the attacks on schools and hospitals.
“The responsibility of the Saudi-led coalition for grave violations against children in many of these attacks is not in doubt,” the rights groups wrote. “The evidence of grave violations against children in Yemen by the Saudi-led Coalition is overwhelming.”
The rights groups said Ban’s decision to remove the coalition from the UN list undermined “an invaluable tool in efforts to curb violations against children in armed conflict.”
“The list creates pressure on parties to armed conflict to comply with international law. Over 20 governments and armed groups have signed UN action plans and taken steps to end violations against children in order to be considered for ‘de-listing’,” they wrote.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by Website Team
09-06-2016 | 11:17

The Guardian: Saudi Arabia Given a Free Pass to Bomb Schools and Hospitals in Yemen
On Thursday last week, the UN secretary general listed Saudi Arabia responsible for killing children, bombing hospitals and schools.
A Yemeni father sitting next to his son's grave
This places Saudi Arabia and the coalition it leads in the dubious company of “ISIS”, the Taliban, al-Shabaab and the Lord’s Resistance Army in the blacklist of organizations violating children’s rights in a conflict area.
By Monday, Saudi Arabia had been removed them from the list, erasing much of the UN’s credibility when it comes to defending human rights.
This sudden turnaround is hard to justify. The evidence that the Saudi-led coalition is bombing civilian areas in towns and cities in north Yemen is compelling.
The UN rapporteurs had found that the coalition was directly responsible for 60% of child casualties from the fighting last year, including the deaths of 510 children from bombing campaigns. They authenticated 49 bombings of schools and hospitals by Saudi Arabia in Yemen in 2015.
However, despite the evidence, the Saudis appear to have been given a free pass. Unlike the usual suspects who feature on the secretary general’s annual report on children affected by armed conflict, the Saudis have powerful friends including the UK and the US – both permanent members of the Security Council.
They also have other points of influence at the UN based on their funding of key UN agencies, including Unicef – the body responsible for promoting the adoption of the UN convention of the rights of the child.
The role of the UK in supporting the coalition is particularly troubling. Over £7bn of British weapons have been sold to Saudi Arabia since 2010. The listing of the Saudi coalition in the UN report would have made it extremely difficult for the UK to continue to resist calls for an arms embargo.
In the face of all this pressure, the secretary general appears to have blinked first, betraying the most vulnerable people on the planet – the children whom this process is designed to protect.
The official UN position is that the listing was removed pending an investigation. I’m concerned this investigation could become a smokescreen to cover a retreating UN office, rather than a genuine attempt to hold Saudi Arabia to account.
The UN appears to be acting as a club for the rich and powerful.
For War Child, which works so hard to keep children safe in the most dangerous circumstances, it is further evidence that we cannot rely on the UN to do the right thing and stand with those most at risk.
Whether the coalition is blacklisted or not, the facts are plain. Saudi bombing is killing hundreds of children and destroying the schools and hospitals on which children rely. This bombing must stop and other avenues explored to bring peace to Yemen.
The role of the UK in supporting this military campaign should also be curtailed immediately. The British government claims its advisers are working with the Saudi air force to make sure that civilian casualties are avoided. The evidence shows that this strategy is clearly not working.
It is time for the UK to withdraw its support from this coalition, to ban sales of arms to Saudi Arabia, and to stand up for the international humanitarian laws it has committed itself to.
Source: The Guardian, Edited by website team
09-06-2016 | 10:49
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