UNITED NATIONS — The Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen has been placed on a U.N. blacklist for killing and maiming nearly 700 children and attacking schools and hospitals in 2016.
The issue of whether the U.S.-backed coalition would be on the list has been eagerly awaited because last year the coalition was put on the blacklist but removed by then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon under intense pressure from Saudi Arabia.
For the first time, the new list, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, was divided into two parts by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
One lists parties that recruit, use, kill, maim, rape, sexually abuse or abduct children in armed conflict or attack schools and hospitals and have taken no action to improve the protection of children.
The other, which includes the Saudi-led coalition, lists parties “that have put in place measures during the reporting period to improve the protection of children.”
The secretary-general’s report did not specify what the measures were.
“In Yemen, the coalition’s actions objectively led to the listing for the killing and maiming of children, with 683 child casualties attributed to this party, and as a result of being responsible for 38 verified incidents, for attacks on schools and hospitals during 2016,” Guterres said in explaining its inclusion.
In June 2016, Ban said he temporarily removed the coalition from the blacklist pending a joint review of cases because its supporters threatened to stop funding many U.N. programs. He told the Security Council he stood by the report that led to the blacklisting, accusing the coalition of killing and injuring about 1,200 children in 2015.
The new blacklist has a number of other parties in Yemen’s civil war that have taken no action to protect children — government forces including the Yemeni Armed Forces, Houthi Shiite rebels, Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, and pro-government militias, including the Salafists and Popular Committees.
Eva Smets, executive director of the advocacy organization Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, said it has documented many instances of coalition attacks in Yemen, “and naming the coalition as responsible in the secretary-general’s annual report is hopefully the first step in holding it accountable and stopping these atrocities.”
“The leaked documents also indicate the secretary-general believes the Saudi-led coalition has taken positive measures,” Smets said, “but we continue to receive disturbing reports of children dying from preventable diseases and the coalition’s bombs.”
Other state and non-state actors on the blacklist that have taken no action to protect children include the Taliban and Haqqani network in Afghanistan, government forces in Syria, Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq, government and opposition forces in South Sudan, and the military, border guards and seven rebel groups in Myanmar.
Rebel and opposition groups in Sudan, Central African Republic, Congo, Mali and Somalia are also on that list along with Colombia’s National Liberation Army, the smaller of Colombia’s rebel forces, which recently agreed to a cease-fire with the government.
The blacklist of parties that have adopted measures to improve the protection of children is much shorter: the Afghan national and local police; the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which signed a peace deal with the government; Congo’s armed forces; the National Liberation Movement of Azawad in Mali; the Somali national army; and Sudan’s security forces, police and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North.