Let’s start off with the numbers right away.
Saudi Arabia’s military offensive in Yemen has killed or injured six children daily over the past year, as per UNICEF’s estimates. During the same period, more than 6,000 Yemenis have been killed in the war, half of whom were civilians.
As a result of the conflict, around 82 percent of the population in Yemen is in need of humanitarian aid, including 320,000 children who risk severe malnutrition. In addition, more than 1,000 schools have been destroyed or damaged, depriving nearly 6,500 children of their education.
Yet, the United Nations removed Saudi Arabia from a list of government forces violating children’s rights, giving in to vehement opposition from Saudi Arabia.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s “Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict” released last week stated the Saudi-led air bombardment and ground campaign in Yemen led to 510 child deaths, accounting for 60 percent of the total death toll since March 2015.
Predictably, the document’s revelations irked the powers that be in Riyadh.
Saudi UN Ambassador Abdullah al-Mouallimi said he was "deeply disappointed" and "disturbed" by the report, adding the 60 percent figure was "wildly exaggerated."
In response, the U.N. promptly took off Saudi Arabia’s name and agreed for a joint U.N.-Saudi review of the cases and numbers in the report.
"Pending the conclusions of the joint review, the secretary-general removes the listing of the coalition in the report's annex," Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
This isn’t the first time the U.N. has bowed down to political pressure from an alleged human rights violator.
In 2014, Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas were also excluded from the blacklist, after they had been added in an initial draft, despite the fact that the 2014 Israeli military operation killed at least 2,104 Palestinians, including 1,462 civilians, of whom 495 were children and 253 women.