Iran slams UN dropping Saudi Yemen coalition from blacklist


Tehran (AFP)

Iran said on Wednesday the UN is giving a "free pass" to the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen by removing it from a list of groups violating children's rights.

A recent report by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the coalition will be delisted "for the violation of killing and maiming, following a sustained significant decrease ... due to air strikes."

It said the toll had fallen since an agreement signed in March 2019.

"UN secretariat gives a free pass to Saudi-led coalition in #Yemen, despite admitting 100s of Yemeni children were killed," Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Twitter.

Saudi Arabia and its ally the United States are making a mockery of international bodies, Mousavi added, using the hashtag "ListOfShame" and attaching pictures of dead Yemeni children.

The coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 to support the government against Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

It has been widely blamed for civilian casualties in bombing raids that human rights campaigners say have pushed the country deeper into crisis.

The Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict has said that the coalition was responsible for the death or injury of 222 children in Yemen last year.

But the secretary general's envoy for children and armed conflict, Virginia Gamba, said the UN had come "under no pressure" from Saudi Arabia and that the removal from the list was based on data.

In 2016 the coalition was briefly included on the annual list before a threat by Saudi Arabia to cut off funding to UN programmes forced a reversal.

The following year, after Guterres assumed the UN leadership, the coalition was placed in a sub-section of the report created for those making efforts to avoid deaths of children. It remained there in 2018 and 2019.