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UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations said on Wednesday it would not give the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen the sources of information that led to its blacklisting for killing and injuring about 1,200 children in the war-torn country last year.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that it was “paramount” to protect sources of information used in any UN report, especially in a conflict area.
Therefore, he said, the UN would refuse a request from the coalition for naming the sources used for the Yemen section of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s annual report on children and armed conflict.
Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi wrote to Ban on behalf of the coalition requesting that sources behind the information be named.
Last Thursday, Ban said he temporarily removed the US-backed coalition from the blacklist for violating child rights pending a joint review of cases because its supporters threatened to stop funding many UN programmes. He accused some unnamed countries of exerting unacceptable and “undue pressure”.
Ban said he stood by the report, which “describes horrors no child should have to face”.
“We will assess the complaints that have been made, but the content will not change,” he said.
Ban didn’t say explicitly that the coalition could go back on the list after the review. The Saudi ambassador said last week “it is our firm belief that this de-listing is final, irreversible and unconditional.”
The report said the UN verified a total of 1,953 youngsters killed and injured in Yemen in 2015 — a six-fold increase compared with 2014 — and it attributed about 60 per cent of those casualties to the coalition.
The UN said it also verified 101 attacks on schools and hospitals last year, double the number in 2014, of which 48 per cent were attributed to the coalition.
Al-Mouallimi’s letter, obtained on Wednesday, thanked the secretary general for removing the coalition from the blacklist and said it “deeply regrets every human casualty in Yemen and reaffirms its commitment to taking every possible measure to protect all civilians in Yemen.”
It notes that the monitoring of violations against children is to be done in cooperation “with national governments and relevant UN and civil society actors”.
Therefore, it said, “the coalition requests a detailed overview of the methodology and modality that were used to create the numbers in the report and the sources relied on for said numbers.”