UN Called on Saudi Arabia to Immediately Halt Deadly Strikes against Yemenis
A U.N. human rights watchdog called on Saudi Arabia to immediately halt its deadly air strikes against civilian targets in Yemen and to prosecute officials responsible for child casualties due to unlawful attacks.
The censure by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child coincided with international concern at the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of Riyadh’s military role in Yemen, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2.
Pressure has mounted on Saudi Arabia, including from allies, to do more to limit civilian casualties in a 3-1/2 year civil war that has killed more than 10,000 people and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.
Britain and the United States are among countries supplying the coalition with weapons and military intelligence.
Saudi Arabia told the child rights panel last week that it was working hard to correct mistaken targeting by its military alliance, but the experts voiced scepticism.
The panel of 18 independent experts, in its conclusions issued on Thursday, took note of the Saudi statement but said that Yemeni children continue to be killed, maimed and orphaned.
“We asked them to put a halt immediately to these air strikes,” Clarence Nelson, panel vice-chair, told reporters.
At least 1,248 children had been killed and nearly the same number wounded in air strikes since March 2015, including dozens killed in a strike on a school bus in Saada province in August, U.N. figures show.
“Nearly 20 percent of the deaths of civilians are children. So that’s one in five civilians killed is a child under 18. That’s a lot of children,” Nelson said.