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Riyadh disclaims UN report on children killed in Yemen

October 07, 15:35 UTC+3 UN

On Friday, the UN published an annual report on children and armed conflicts, where the Saudi-led coalition is called responsible for death and injuries of 683 children in Yemen in 2016

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UN, October 7. /TASS/. Saudi Arabia calls inaccurate the UN’s report on almost 700 children killed and injured in actions of Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen, the kingdom’s Ambassador to UN Abdallah Al-Mouallimi told reporters on Friday.

"We reject the inaccurate and misleading information and data, contained in the report [of UN]," the diplomat told a news conference at the UN headquarters. Saudi Arabia and its allies, fighting in Yemen in support of the government, adhere to all their obligations in the framework of the international humanitarian law. "We exercise the maximum degree of care and precaution to avoid civilian harm," the ambassador said, rejecting the claims the coalition was bombing regularly schools and hospitals. Objects of the kind are on the list of targets prohibited for the Air Force, he explained.

The ambassador blamed the insurgents for the suffering of people in Yemen, stressing humanitarian consequences from the conflict are the direct result of how the Houthis and the forces loyal to former President [of Yemen Ali Abdallah] Salekh use the immoral and illegal actions which endanger the civilians. According to him, the insurgents are using with impunity children as a "human shield" and involve them in the armed conflict. In case of victims, the responsibility is on the side, which throws them into fighting, he said.

UN’s report

On Friday, the UN published an annual report on children and armed conflicts, where the Saudi-led coalition is called responsible for death and injuries of 683 children in Yemen in 2016. According to the Organization, Riyadh and its allies are responsible for 73% of all the attacks on schools and hospitals in 2016, and besides it is responsible for 13 cases, where humanitarian personnel were not allowed to provide assistance to civilians.

The UN has put the Saudi-led coalition, Yemen’s governmental forces and insurgents, along with more than 50 participants in other armed conflicts, on the list of those responsible for deaths and injuries of children. The report stresses, Saudi Arabia and its allies are undertaking measures to ease consequences from the conflict for children. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called those measures a step in the right direction, though admitted they were insufficient and the crimes against children in 2016 remained at unacceptably high level.

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador appreciated the UN secretary general’s acclaim of the steps the coalition and Saudi Arabia had undertaken to protect children, as well as his desire to develop the bilateral cooperation in the interests of security of civilians in Yemen.

Consequences from conflict and blockade

Since august 2014, Yemen remains devastated in a conflict between the governmental forces and the Houthis insurgents. It entered the most active phase after the Saudi-led coalition invaded the country in March 2015. The UN reports about 20 million people in Yemen - about 70% of the country’s population - require humanitarian assistance, and the number of internally displaced persons exceeds three million. In Yemen, seven million are on the edge of hunger and two million children are short of food. Besides, the cholera outbreak has killed more than 2,000 people over five months.

At the news conference, the Saudi ambassador rejected categorically the claims the Saudi-led coalition was responsible for Yemen’s blockade, thus not allowing into the country food, medications and other essentials. The ambassador assured the reporters the coalition had not stopped a single humanitarian consignment. Riyadh has been assisting Yemen more than any other country, he said. Saudi Arabia also helps in fighting cholera - it has allocated $67 million for that, he added.

The UN said on Thursday, for nine months the coalition would not allow the UN to deliver to Yemen’s Hodeidah port the cranes to unload vessels carrying humanitarian assistance and commercial cargoes.

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