Saudi Arabia Criticises U.N. Over Yemen Blacklisting

A Saudi security personnel stands next to a truck loaded with aid offered by King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid to be sent to the Yemeni people, in Riyadh April 17, 2016. Saudi Arabia rejected a United Nations report that criticised the military coalition it is leading in Yemen. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

RIYADH, June 6 – Saudi Arabia has rejected a United Nations report that criticised the military coalition it is leading in Yemen, saying it was based primarily on information supplied by its adversaries.

On Thursday U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon added the Saudi-led coalition to an annual blacklist of states and armed groups that violate children’s rights during conflicts, saying its air strikes were behind most child deaths in the war.

In Yemen it also blacklisted the Houthi group and forces loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, which have already featured on the annual list for the past five years.

However, coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asseri said in a statement sent to Reuters late on Sunday that the U.N. had not based enough of its report on information supplied by the Saudi-backed Yemeni government.

Asseri has criticised reports by international human rights organisations of civilian deaths caused by coalition air strikes as coming after inadequate investigation.

The United Nations, Human Rights Watch and other monitoring agencies have also criticised the Houthis for what they describe as indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas and the use of child soldiers.

They have said their reports are based on eyewitness testimony and have in some cases followed visits by international monitors to the sites of air strikes.

Last week’s U.N. report said the Saudi-led coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen in 2015, killing 510 and wounding 667. It also said the coalition carried out half the attacks on schools and hospitals.

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