NEW YORK: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday announced that the Saudi-led Arab coalition will remain off the blacklist of those causing the deaths of children in Yemen, while Saudi Arabia reiterated that safety of children is always its top priority.
The UN chief made the announcement while briefing the council on its annual report on children and armed conflict.
During his address at the meeting, Saudi Ambassador to the UN Abdullah Al-Mouallimi said the Kingdom puts the interest and safety of children at the very top of its priorities, adding that it sees no justification in targeting children or civilians in any conflict zone.
“We believe that children’s place is at school, and not in the battlefield. That they have an absolute right to education and health care... far from flying bullets. We are fully committed to protecting civilians and children in war zones,” he said.
Saudi Arabia is greatly concerned about allegations over violations of civilians and children’s rights in Yemen, said Al-Al-Mouallimi.
“We have formed an Arab committee to look into those allegations, and we will provide the UN with the outcome of the investigations as soon as they are completed,” he said.
He said the Kingdom has always been keen on providing humanitarian assistance to distressed people around the globe and that Saudi Arabia stands at the frontline when it comes to supporting the reconstruction efforts in Yemen.
Al-Mouallimi highlighted that the Kingdom has provided over $440 million in various kinds of assistance to Yemeni citizens all over that country, in addition to humanitarian assistance to refugees in Jordan, Sudan and Djibouti.
“More than a million Yemeni citizens have crossed the borders into our country seeking refuge. We opened our government schools to their children and granted them full access to medical care,” he said.
He added that Saudi Arabia has been suffering from Houthis cross-border aggression as more than 500 civilians have been killed by Houthi shelling across the borders.
Al-Mouallimi called on the UN to verify the credibility of its sources when compiling its reports, adding that the Kingdom was saddened with the inclusion of the coalition’s name in its report on civilians’ rights violations, despite the enormous efforts the Kingdom has been playing in alleviating the misery of millions of Yemeni citizens resulting from Houthi’s aggressions.
Ban had previously removed the coalition from the blacklist temporarily — contained in an annex to the report — on June 6 pending a joint review after Saudi Arabia, a key UN donor, vehemently protested against the preliminary UN decision.