Global opinion and leaders in many countries have reacted angrily to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ decision to remove the Saudi Arabian military coalition in Yemen from a list of groups violating children’s rights. Antonio Guterres has taken this step only a few years after the coalition was first named and shamed for killing and injuring children in Yemen. Antonio Guterres said the coalition would be removed from the list covering violations of the rules about murder and mutilation “after a steady and significant reduction in the number of murders and mutilations resulting from air strikes” and following the implementation of measures aimed at protecting children. He said the coalition had killed or wounded only (?!) 222 children in Yemen last year, but that is merely the figure which international observers have been able to officially confirm.
For its part, the Yemeni press notes that the child death toll is at least ten times that figure, not to mention injuries, mutilations and displaced children. The Yemeni press notes that, unfortunately, some member states of the United Nations are trying to absolve Saudi Arabia of its crimes against Yemeni children and women, while, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, one Yemeni child is dying every ten minutes as a result of the war and Saudi coalition-imposed siege. There can be no doubt that this step by the UN and the position of its current Secretary General are evidence of its “selective approach” and “double standards” in relation to human rights.
Jo Becker, Human Rights Watch’s children’s rights advocacy director, indicated that Antonio Guterres “was adding a new item to his list of shame by removing the Saudi-led coalition from the blacklist and ignoring the UN’s own evidence of ongoing grave violations of children’s rights.” Adrianne Lapar, director of Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, also stated that “the Secretary-General is sending the message that powerful actors can get away with killing children.”
It is widely recognised that, without American weapons and diplomatic support at the UN, the Saudis would be unable to continue their war crimes in Yemen. The UN could have done much more to alleviate the suffering of Yemeni children if it had monitored the supply of arms, primarily from the US to Saudi Arabia. A number of Western countries, for example Great Britain, are also complicit in Saudi war crimes by virtue of supplying weaponry and intelligence data, as well as providing technical support for the Saudi Arabian Air Force through private British companies. It is necessary that they too be forced to abandon this criminal activity.The Yemen Tragedy Continues