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'Blacklist Saudi Arabia for Yemen child abuses', UN urged

More than 8.1 million children in Yemen are lacking access to basic healthcare [AFP]

Date of publication: 20 April, 2017

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Save the Children and Watchlist call for Saudi Arabia to be placed on the UN's annual list of groups and countries responsible for grave violations against children.

A monitoring group has called on the UN to blacklist Saudi Arabia for violating child rights in Yemen, in a report that cites around 160 attacks on medical facilities by all factions in the country's ongoing war.
The Saudi-led Arab military coalition in Yemen was added the UN's annual list of violators of children's rights last year, however was removed after political and economic pressure from the oil-rich kingdom and its allies.

"The UN Secretary-General cannot bow to pressure from Saudi Arabia, but must hold the Saudi Arabia-led coalition responsible for repeated attacks on medical facilities and staff," said Christine Monaghan, Research Officer at Watchlist. "They are leading to the closure of hospitals, compromising children’s access to treatment, and increasing rates of injury and disease."

The report released on Thursday by Watchlist and Save the Children says that in addition to the targeting of medical facilities, the Saudi-led coalition has been blocked vital supplies from entering Yemen.

Save the Children says that the blocking of supplies at Yemen's fourth largest port at Hodeidah has prevented thousands of children from being treated for preventable illnesses like diarrhea, measles, malaria, and malnutrition.

Since August 2016, commercial flights to Sanaa airport have been suspended, meaning that an estimated 20,000 are prevented from seeking treatment elsewhere.

Over half of the health facilities assessed in 16 of the 22 assessed governorates in Yemen are closed or partially functioning due to the war. This has left more than 14.8 million people in need of basic healthcare including 8.1 million children, according to the UN.

According to UNICEF, at least 1,456 children were killed between March 26, 2015 and the end of February this year, though this number is considered by experts to be the "tip of the iceberg".

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