UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ annual report on children and armed conflict, issued at the start of the week, featured a slight tweak for the year: the Saudi-led coalition waging war in Yemen was omitted from its list of offenders.
Dubbed the “list of shame,” this annex to the report names groups that fail to comply with measures aimed at ensuring the safety of children in armed conflict.
The Saudi-led coalition had been listed for the past three years. Guterres justified his decision to remove it from this year’s list, saying the group had achieved a “sustained significant decrease in killing and maiming due to airstrikes. “
Humanitarian organizations, including Save the Children and Human Rights Watch, criticized the decision to leave Saudi-led forces and other warring parties off the list.
“After five years of war, Yemeni children are the ones who suffer the most,” Yousra Semmache of Save the Children in Yemen told DW. “They are being killed and injured by the ongoing fighting, and they have been deprived of their most basic rights.”
In the case of the Saudi-led coalition, it barely took one day for the group’s removal to be thrown into question by events on the ground. Late Monday, coalition airstrikes killed 13 people in the northern Yemeni province of Saada, including four children.
“It’s a very sad irony that this attack happened on the day that the annual UN report on children and armed conflict is coming out,” said Xavier Joubert, Save the Children’s Yemen director. “The attack shows that such a decision is far too premature. Children are still dying from bombs almost daily.”