SOURCE: Save the Children

Save the Children

April 20, 2017 00:01 ET

Save the Children Report: UN must list Saudi Arabia-led coalition for violating child rights in Yemen

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - April 20, 2017) - A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia in Yemen must be named in the UN's annual list of perpetrators of child rights violations for carrying out repeated attacks on medical facilities and personnel, a new report says today.

The report, by Save the Children and Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, documents a series of deadly attacks on hospitals and medics over the past two years, and calls on UN Secretary General António Guterres to add the Saudi Arabia-led coalition to his list of those responsible for grave violations of children's rights in conflict. In 2016 then-UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon briefly listed the coalition for killing children and attacking schools and hospitals in Yemen, only to later remove it after pressure from Saudi Arabia. This year's UN report on Children and Armed Conflict is due to be published in the coming months.

Appearing on the list is an international embarrassment for states and non-state actors, which can usually only be removed after meeting UN-verified benchmarks for ending and preventing violations.

"Canada must speak up and call for accountability for any actor engaged in grave violations against children," said Patricia Erb, President and CEO, Save the Children in Canada. "While this new report focuses on violations against the life and health of children, we know that schools are also under attack. The importance of protecting education for children in conflict is paramount, which is why Canada recently endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration and committed to implement its Guidelines."

"Canada has a strong history of protecting children, which is why it's imperative for Canada to call on the UN Secretary General to list Saudi Arabia in this year's UN report on Children and Armed Conflict," said Erb.

All warring parties in Yemen have been implicated in at least 160 attacks on medical facilities and personnel over the past two years, including destroying and damaging hospitals. In one documented case, two infants in incubators reportedly died from a lack of oxygen after a pediatric hospital in Sana'a was damaged in an airstrike by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition.

The new report calls on UN Members to stop all arms sales or transfers to members of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition. In 2014, Canada approved a controversial export licence for the sale and transfer of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia. A case was brought before the Federal Court in early 2017 to try and block shipments of the armoured vehicles, but the case was dismissed. However, the Canadian government has previously indicated they would consider suspending or cancelling arms exports to Saudi Arabia if "human rights conditions deteriorated."

"Repeated violations by the coalition have been verified in multiple UN reports and by credible human rights organizations, including Save the Children," said Erb. "We should be proud of the difference Canadian aid is making in Yemen -- it is helping to keep children alive. But at the same time Canada should not be permitting arms transfers to a country that is bombing schools and health centres and killing children. We must put a stop to these double standards and halt all arms exports to Saudi Arabia until those accountable for grave violations are held responsible. Canada must continue to speak out on behalf of vulnerable children who are at extreme risk."

Read the full report Every Day Things are Getting Worse: The Impact on Children of Attacks on Health Care in Yemen here.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

  • More than half of the health facilities assessed in 16 of the 22 assessed governorates in Yemen are closed or partially functioning due to the conflict, leaving over 14.8 million people in need of basic healthcare including 8.1 million children (UN OCHA)
  • Yemen is facing the largest food security emergency in the world with 17 million food insecure people: 6.8 million people in IPC Phase 4 'emergency' -- one stage before famine -- and 10.2 million people in IPC Phase 3 'crisis.' There are 3 million (or 20%) more food insecure people in March 2017 compared to June 2016 (IPC Report, 15 March 2017)
  • According to UN OCHA (Yemen 2017 HRP), 7,469 people have been killed and 40,483 injured (47,952 total casualties) between March 2015 and 31 December 2016.
    • According to OHCHR, between March 2015 and 23 February 2017, 4,667 civilians killed and 8,180 injured since March 2015.
    • The ongoing conflict has had a devastating impact on children. According to UNICEF, between 26 March 2015 and 28 February 2017, at least 1,546 children were killed and 2,450 others maimed. These verified cases through the UN Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (UN MRM) are just considered to be the "tip of the iceberg."

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Contact Information

  • For More Information:

    Vesna Jaksic Lowe
    Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict Media Contact
    vesnajaksic@gmail.com
    + 1 (917) 374-2273

    Katharine Harris
    Senior Manager, Communications & PR
    Save the Children
    kharris@savethechildren.ca
    +1 647 973 1185