Saudi Arabia has rejected a United Nations report that criticized the military coalition it is leading in Yemen, saying it was based primarily on information supplied by its adversaries.
On Thursday U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon added the Saudi-led coalition to an annual blacklist of states and armed groups that violate children’s rights during conflicts, saying its air strikes were behind most child deaths in the war.
In Yemen it also blacklisted the Houthi group and forces loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, which have already featured on the annual list for the past five years.
However, coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asseri said in a statement that “the U.N. had not based enough of its report on information supplied by the Saudi-backed Yemeni government”.
Asseri has criticized reports by international human rights organizations of civilian deaths caused by coalition air strikes as coming after inadequate investigation.
The United Nations, Human Rights Watch and other monitoring agencies have also criticized the Houthis for what they describe as indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas and the use of child soldiers.
They have said their reports are based on eyewitness testimony and have in some cases followed visits by international monitors to the sites of air strikes.
Last week’s U.N. report said that “the Saudi-led coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen in 2015, killing 510 and wounding 667”. It also said that “the coalition carried out half the attacks on schools and hospitals”.