Powerful Saudi prince to meet UN chief on Yemen

Powerful Saudi prince to meet UN chief on Yemen
Mohammed bin Salman will meet Ban Ki-moon to discuss a UN blacklist of child rights violators after Saudi Arabia 'resorted to pressure' in order to be removed from list.
2 min read
18 June, 2016
Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince is currently on a visit to the US [AFP]
Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince is due to meet with UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday, after the United Nations removed the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen from a blacklist.

Mohammed bin Salman, currently on a visit to the United States, wants to discuss the controversy involving a Saudi-led coalition being placed on, and then removed, from a blacklist over the killing and injuring of about 1,200 children in the conflict in Yemen last year.

The request for a meeting comes after the UN criticised the kingdom for resorting to "undue pressure" to remove the coalition from the blacklist by threatening to cut off funding.

"An official request has come to the office of the secretary-general for a meeting with the deputy crown prince and as soon as we're able to confirm something we shall," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Reuters.

Last week, Ban said he temporarily removed the US-backed coalition from the blacklist for violating child rights pending a joint review of cases because its supporters threatened to stop funding many UN programmes.

But he has not responded to a letter from Saudi ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi requesting details of the sources used in reports of child rights violations.

The UN will not disclose its sources, Dujarric told Reuters, but Ban said he stands by the report, which "describes horrors no child should have to face."

In Washington, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said his country works hard to minimise civilian casualties in Yemen and uphold international humanitarian law. 

Saudi Arabia began an aerial campaign against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen in March 2015.

"The air sorties that the kingdom and the coalition fly are recorded – both video and voice. We conduct after-damage assessments," he said, "We are confident that we have taken all necessary measures to minimise collateral damage or damage to civilians."

"We do not target civilians. We are very careful about what targets we take out," he added. 

But the UN report on children and armed conflict accused the coalition of being responsible for 60 percent of child causalities last year.

The UN verified a total of 1,953 children killed and injured in Yemen in 2015 – a six-fold increase compared with 2014.

The UN said it also verified 101 attacks on schools and hospitals last year, double the number in 2014, of which 48 percent were attributed to the Saudi-led coalition.