Dubai: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was on Tuesday expected to brief the UN Security Council on a controversial report on the plight of children in Yemen, and say that the world body will work with Saudi Arabia on the matter.
A UN annual report on children and armed conflict claimed the coalition was responsible for “60 per cent” of child deaths and injuries in Yemen last year, killing 510 and wounding 667.
Ban temporarily removed the coalition from the blacklist — contained in an annex to the report — on June 6 pending a joint review after Saudi Arabia, a key UN donor.
Some diplomats alleged that the removal came after Saudi Arabia threatened to cut off funding. Riyadh strongly denied using threats.
Ban was to brief the UN Security Council on the report on Tuesday. He was expected to tell the 15-member council that the United Nations will continue to work with Saudi Arabia on the issue and reinforce that only the blacklist is under review, not the substance of the report, a UN diplomatic source said.
The Saudi-led coalition began a military campaign in Yemen in March last year with the aim of preventing Iranian-allied Al Houthi rebels and forces loyal to Yemen’s ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh from taking power.
UN officials plan to travel to Riyadh to obtain more details on various issues, such as rules of engagement, one of the sources said.
Since the report was issued, Ban has met with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir. Two weeks ago Saudi Arabia sent a letter that diplomatic sources said did not address UN concerns about the risks to children in Yemen and was described by one source as “superficial.” A second letter received by the United Nations last Thursday “does not address yet all of our concerns, but is good enough to continue with the joint evaluation,” said one of the diplomatic sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“They are willing to continue to be engaged, they formally accept international humanitarian law, and give all sorts of info useful to avoid and prevent future incidents affecting children,” said the source.
However, the same source said the United Nations needs “more specifics,” citing as an example a commitment to international humanitarian law as “too general.”
“We think we sent a fairly comprehensive letter that I hope has served to address all the concerns of UN and clarify all issues surrounding the report by the UN,” Saudi UN Ambassador Abdallah Al Mouallami told Reuters on Monday.