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.”
The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), a US-based nonprofit organization, notes that the war in Yemen has claimed over 100,000 lives in the past five years, while more than 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including ten million suffering from extreme hunger.
It is well known that Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in early 2015 on a spurious pretext,