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U.N. blacklists Saudi coalition for killing children in Yemen

Reuters UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) — The United Nations blacklisted a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition on Thursday for killing and injuring 683 children in Yemen and attacking dozens of schools and hospitals in 2016, even as it said the coalition had taken action to improve child protection.

The blacklist attached to the U.N. annual report on children in armed conflict also named the Iran-allied Houthi rebel group, Yemen government forces, pro-government militia and Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula for violations against children in 2016.

The U.N. report said the Houthis and affiliated forces killed and injured 414 children in 2016.

The report from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was submitted to the Security Council on Thursday and seen by Reuters. A draft of the blacklist was reported by Reuters on Tuesday.

The actions of the Saudi-led coalition “objectively led” to it being blacklisted for killing and injuring 683 children and for 38 attacks on schools and hospitals last year, the report said, adding that all incidents were verified by the United Nations.

The coalition had been briefly added to the blacklist in 2016 and then removed by then-U.N. chief Ban Ki Moon pending review. At the time, Ban accused Saudi Arabia of exerting “unacceptable” undue pressure after sources told Reuters that Riyadh threatened to cut some U.N. funding. Saudi Arabia denied threatening Ban.

In an effort to dampen controversy surrounding the report, the blacklist this year is split into two categories. One lists parties that have put in place measures to protect children, which includes the Saudi-led military coalition, and the other includes parties that have not.

The report, which was produced by U.N. Children and Armed Conflict envoy Virginia Gamba and issued in Guterres’ name, does not subject those listed to U.N. action but rather shames parties to conflicts in the hope of pushing them to implement measures to protect children.

Guterres spoke with Saudi King Salman by phone on Wednesday. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “They had a very positive discussion on issues of mutual interest, including the situation in the Middle East and beyond.”

Saudi U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi plans to hold a news conference on Friday.Speech

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