RESPONSE TO THE NEW CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICT REPORT
Save the Children today welcomes reports that the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is set to add the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition in Yemen to his annual list of parties that commit grave violations against children in conflict.
Wednesday, 4 October 2017 - 3:10pm
Save the Children statement on UN Secretary-General’s Children and Armed Conflict report
Save the Children today welcomes unconfirmed reports in the media that the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is set to add the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition in Yemen to his annual list of parties that commit grave violations against children in conflict.
The latest draft shared by the media, which is not the final version of the report, puts the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition into a new section for parties who have committed grave violations but “put in place measures to improve the protection of children.”
But Save the Children has seen few signs of improvement on the ground in Yemen. All parties have continued to kill and maim children, and bomb schools and hospitals with impunity amid conditions close to famine and a devastating cholera outbreak. Just one week in August saw 58 civilian casualties, including children. 42 of the casualties were a result of attacks by the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition, according to the UN Human Rights Office.
The inclusion of the Coalition on the UN list means that all the parties to Yemen’s war will now be named for violations that include recruiting child soldiers, bombing schools and hospitals, and killing and maiming children.
Save the Children, Global Citizen and other organisations sent a letter to the Secretary-General in August signed by more than 37,000 people, which asked him to protect Yemen’s children by naming and shaming all parties committing violations.
The letter followed the former UN Secretary General’s decision last year to remove the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition from the list despite clear, UN-verified evidence of a pattern of grave violations against children. The decision was reportedly due to threats from Saudi Arabia to withdraw funding from the UN.
Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children, said:
“All sides in Yemen’s war have failed to respect international law, and children have paid a terrible price. As a cholera epidemic continues to infect thousands of children every day, they are also being bombed in their homes and schools, denied humanitarian relief and forced to fight on the frontlines.
“The Secretary-General has stood up for Yemen’s children and for the rights of all children in conflict with this decision. Now the UN and wider international community must make sure the violations by all parties to the conflict end. Being added to this shameful list should act as a wake-up call to every party in Yemen’s conflict – and countries that are supporting or arming them.”
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
- States or groups can be listed in the UN Secretary-General’s annual report for any of five ‘grave violations’ in the previous year: killing and maiming children, attacks on schools and hospitals, abduction, child recruitment, and sexual violence.
- Save the Children has previously detailed at least 23 attacks by the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition in 2016. In each case the Coalition killed or maimed children, or bombed school and hospitals.
- According to OHCHR between March 2015 and June 2017, 4,971 civilians killed and 8,533 injured (total 13, 504 civilian casualties)
- According to UNICEF’s latest Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) figures, between 26 March 2015 and 30 June 2017, at least 1,676 children were killed and 2,760 others maimed. These verified cases are just considered to be the “tip of the iceberg”.
- The OHCHR says between March 2015 and 30 August, at least 5,144 civilians have been documented as killed and more than 8,749 injured. Children accounted for at least 1,184 of those who were killed and 1,541 of those injured. Coalition airstrikes continued to be the leading cause of child casualties as well as overall civilian casualties. Some 3, 233 of the civilians killed were reportedly killed by Coalition forces.
- On Friday members of the UN Human Rights Council including the UK, unanimously approved a resolution to establish a “Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts” to monitor and report on violations of international human rights law and other violations in Yemen. Save the Children welcomes the decision and the UK Government’s role in helping to secure a consensus resolution which, if enacted properly, will help to end grave violations against Yemen’s children.