Saudi-Led Coalition Behind Most Yemen Child Casualties

Saudi-Led Coalition Behind Most Yemen Child CasualtiesSaudi-Led Coalition Behind Most Yemen Child Casualties

The Saudi-led coalition was responsible for more than half of child deaths and injuries in war-torn Yemen last year, according to a new United Nations report exclusively obtained by Al Jazeera.

The annual Children and Armed Conflict report, which shines the spotlight on child victims around the world, found that a total of 1,316 children were killed and maimed in the Arab world’s poorest country in 2017.

Saudi Arabia, together with several other Arab nations, launched a military campaign in 2015 aiming to roll back advances made by Houthi forces after they overran much of the country in 2014.

Most countries have since withdrawn their forces from the US-backed coalition, with only Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates conducting attacks in Yemen.

The UN report was compiled by the staff of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and submitted to the Security Council on Monday.

It verified that out of the 552 children killed (398 boys, 154 girls), the majority—370—were attributed to the coalition, which was also blamed for 300 child injuries. 51% of the total 1,316 casualties were caused by air attacks, the report said.

The second leading cause was ground fighting, including shelling and shooting (136 killed, 334 injured), followed by explosive remnants of war and mines (27 killed, 119 injured).

 Child Recruitment

The report also accused forces from the Saudi-Emirati coalition of recruiting hundreds of cases of child soldiers—some as young as 11 years old.

The report includes an addendum that names the groups and parties that are responsible for the killing and wounding of children.

Speaking from the UN headquarters in New York, Al Jazeera’s diplomatic correspondent James Bays said the report includes condemnations of lots of different armed groups and some governments.

“What is most notable is that the Saudi-led coalition is listed as one of the parties that commit grave violations affecting children in situations of armed conflict,” Bays said.

“Saudi Arabia fought very hard not to get listed last year, and they came up with this caveat that they’re putting measures in place to try to change the situation to protect children.

“That does beg the question though, [if] for two years running they’ve improved the protection of children, why are they still killing them?”

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