Saudi Arabia offers UN its report on Yemen deaths

Saudi Arabia offers UN its report on Yemen deaths
3 min read
31 July, 2016
Saudi Arabia has offered to provide its own findings into coalition attacks on civilian deaths in Yemen, as Riyadh seeks to remove itself from a UN war crimes blacklist.
The findings will be presented by Saudi ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi on Tuesday [AFP]

Riyadh has offered to share the results of its own investigations into child deaths in the Yemen war, most thought to be from Saudi-led coalition air raids.

Saudi Arabia has put pressure on the United Nations to remove its name from a blacklist of states that violate children's rights in war time.

War planes on residential areas in Yemen from Saudi-led coalition bombing are thought to have killed hundreds of children.

In a 13-page letter sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier this week, Saudi Ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi outlined steps taken by the Arab coalition to avoid attacks on civilians by ensuring targets have "identifiable military purposes".

"The coalition takes any allegations of violations of civilians and children's rights very seriously," the ambassador said.

"The coalition is unequivocally committed to the protection of civilians and fully respects its obligations under international law."

It  maintains it has banned pilots from targeting schools and diplomatic missions and employs the assistance of "local forces to identify and vet targets for airstrikes".

Results from ten investigations launched by the coalition itself were found amid "direct dialogue" with international humanitarian organisations including, including Doctors Without Borders (MSF), "in order to guarantee protection and security of hospitals and medical infrastructures", the letter claimed.

"International partners have participated in intelligence sharing and provided targeting assistance, advisory and logistical support to the coalition," Mouallimi said.

The findings are expected to be shared with the United Nations during a meeting proposed in Riyadh, he said.

Since last year, several attacks on homes, a market, a wedding party, a hospital and a convoy of four World Food Programme trucks.

The hundreds of civilian deaths have provoked international outcry, although many of Riyadh's western allies appear to be providing training and weapons to Saudi Arabia.

The UN responded with a "list of shame" of child right violators in June, naming Saudi Arabia in its list due to the kingdom's intensive bombing campaign of Yemen, which has resulted in hundreds of children being killed.

Riyadh reacted angrily and demanded to be taken off, denying the claims and threatening to cut funding to UN aid programmes shortly before being taken off the list pending the 2 August review.

Ban is expected to report to the Security Council on Tuesday to discuss whether the proposed measures is adequate to allow keep the coalition off the UN blacklist of child rights violators.

The coalition launched an air campaign in support of Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in March 2015 after he and his government fled the capital Sanaa after a takeover by Houthi rebel fighters.

The war has killed some 6,400 people and exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the impoverished country, according to the United Nations.

Agencies contributed to this report.