UN blacklists Saudi-led coalition for killing, maiming children

An annual UN report on children in armed conflict announced the blacklisting of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, which is responsible for the killing and maiming of approximately 1,200 of the 1,953 child casualties last year. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon notes in the report, which covers the period from January to December 2015, that Yemen has seen “a particularly worrisome escalation of conflict,” resulting in “grave violations against children.”

The Houthis, the Hadi government, pro-government militias, and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula were also included on the list. They are considered persistent perpetrators and have been blacklisted for the past several years.

Children caught in the middle of operations have been killed and maimed and their homes and schools destroyed, raising concerns about compliance with international law. When responding to violent extremism, Member States should ensure that their rules of engagement take into account that children may be living in areas under the control of armed groups or may be used on front lines following their abduction or recruitment.

Most of the casualties are attributed to the Saudi-led coalition, which is responsible for 60 percent of child fatalities and injuries. A fifth of those killed are due to attacks by Houthi forces. Both the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi forces are shown to have targeted schools and hospitals, while the Houthis have reportedly misused dozens of schools for military purposes.

The recruitment of children for warfare is also shown to be a persistent problem in Yemen's conflict. The Houthis were found to be responsible for 72 percent of the 762 verified cases of child recruitment while the remaining cases were attributed to AQAP, government forces, and pro-government militias.

The report also outlines the detention by popular committees of 183 boys, mostly from Abyan, Aden, and Lahij, who were recruited by various militias. Some were held in custody for up to five months due to their connections with armed groups, including the Houthis.

Armed groups in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Syria, among others, were similarly blacklisted.