In keeping with a draft copy of the report leaked early this week, the annual UN blacklist for harming children in armed conflict has named the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen as a major violator of the rights of children, noting that their war efforts have killed or injured 683 Yemeni children in 2016, and bombed dozens of schools and hospitals.
The report confirmed that Saudi actions “objectively led to” 683 child casualties, and 38 verified incidents, They listed al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the Shi’ite Houthi movement as well, though all had lower casualty counts.
Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in early 2015, with a coalition that includes Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan, Senegal, Sudan, and the United States. US involvement has included targeting support for Saudi warplanes, in-air refueling for Saudi bombers, and naval participation in the blockade of Yemen.
A previous UN Security Council report from August also confirmed the Saudi war killed 502 children in the past year. Saudi officials have yet to respond to this latest report, but plan a statement some time on Friday.
The Saudi coalition similarly made the list last year over war crimes in 2015, but managed to coerce the UN into removing them after threatening to withdraw funding. It remains to be seen if the Saudis will be successful with that tack this year.
Though this year’s report makes note of Saudi promises to improve targeting, human rights groups mocked the claim, saying the Saudis have made many “empty promises” throughout the war to reduce deaths.