08/18/2017, 09.30
YEMEN - SAUDI ARABIA - UN
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UN: Over half of the children killed in Yemen conflict killed by Saudi bombs

A United Nations draft report document’s an indictment against Riyadh. The attacks of the Arab coalition in 2016 killed 683 children on a total of 1340. Damage to schools and hospitals caused by Saudi raids (38 out of 52). Cholera emergency continues: cases exceed half a million.

Sana'a (AsiaNews) - The Saudi Arabian coalition is responsible for over half of the children who were killed or wounded last year in the context of the Yemen conflict. This is what UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has stated outlining a report recently drafted by a UN group of experts.

The document, released yesterday to the Associated Press (AP), points out that for a total of 1340 child victims of the conflict recorded in 2016 in Yemen, at least 683 (51%) are the result of bombing raids carried out by Riyadh jets. In addition, at least three-quarters of the attacks on schools and hospitals - 38 out of 52 - are the work of the Arab coalition.

The draft of the UN report on children and armed conflicts recalls studies already published in the past by the United Nations. Last year, a report critical Riyadh was canceled by then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, following a Saudi threat to cancel funding for UN-sponsored programs.

According to the Foreign Policy magazine, the new UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Virigina Gamba intends to include Saudi Arabia's coalition active in Yemen on the list of countries that kill or hurt children. Today Gutierres is scheduled to meet Gamba and discuss the report that accuses Saudis. However, the final (and official) version is still being studied and will not be published before a month.

The Saudi mission to the UN rejects the accusations and speaks of a "positive exchange of information" with the United Nations regarding the activities of the coalition in Yemen.

Since January 2015, Yemen has been the scene of a bloody civil war opposing the country’s Sunni elites led by former President Hadi, backed by Riyadh, and Shia Houthi rebels, who are close to Iran. In March 2015, a Saudi-led Arab coalition began attacking the  rebels, sparking criticism from the United Nations over heavy casualties, including many children.

To date, more than 8,000 people have died, more than 44,000 have been injured and 3 million displaced. Nearly 19 million people (out of 24 in total) are in need of varying degrees of humanitarian assistance. Of these, at least seven million are considered at the brink of famine. Among them, 2.3 million are "malnourished" children less than five years old. 

Moreover, the worst cholera epidemic in the world is currently taking place in the Arab country, with a total number of cases that, according to sources of the World Health Organization, reached half a million. Since the end of April, the beginning of the crisis, the victims are at least 1975 and the number of daily infections is around 5,000. Precarious hygienic and sanitary conditions are accelerating the spread of the disease, with over 14 million people who do not have drinking water or sanitary services. Added to this is the collapse of the waste collection operations in the most important cities. (DS)

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