Arab coalition removed from UN blacklist

The United Nations said it would remove the Saudi-led Arab coalition from a blacklist over the deaths of hundreds of children in Yemen

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The United Nations on Monday said it would remove the Saudi-led Arab coalition from a blacklist over the deaths of hundreds of children in Yemen pending a review of the facts.

Saudi Arabia had reacted angrily to a UN decision to add the coalition to a list of children's rights violators after determining that it was responsible for 60 percent of the 785 children killed in Yemen last year.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon agreed to a Saudi proposal to review the facts and cases cited in the report jointly with the coalition, his spokesman Stephan Dujarric said.

"Pending the conclusions of the joint review, the secretary-general removes the listing of the coalition in the report's annex," he added.

Saudi’s UN envoy Abdullah al-Mualami told reporters that the coalition felt "vindicated" and declared that the change to the list was "final and unconditional."

Earlier on Monday Mualami criticized a recent report by the international body on the Yemeni conflict, and claimed that the findings were “misleading” and “incorrect.”

Mualami said Saudi Arabia does not accept for the kingdom or any of its Arab coalition allies to be placed on a “bad list.”

Mualami’s statement, made during a press conference at the UN headquarters, comes after the Saudi-led Arab coalition’s military spokesman on Sunday dubbed the report as “imbalanced” and not reliant on “credible statistics.” The report also gave “misleading” and “incorrect numbers,” the military spokesman added.

The Saudi envoy said that the report contained double standards, citing Israel’s exclusion from a UN list. Last year, the UN released a list of children’s rights violators and did not include Israel, despite an outcry over the death of more than 500 children during the Gaza war the year before.

He also said the report overlooked Saudi’s role in reinstating “legitimacy” in Yemen.

The report was released on Thursday by the office of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. It slammed both the Arab coalition and militia forces for a “very large number of violations” including “attacks on schools and hospitals.”

Since March last year, the Saudi-led coalition has bombed Iranian-backed Houthi militias and forces allied to deposed leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, in a bid to put the government of internationally recognized President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi back in power.