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U.N. agrees to remove Saudi-led coalition from child abuse blacklist, pending review

Among the other groups blacklisted by the U.N. are Taliban forces in Afghanistan, the Islamic State, al-Shabab, President Bashar Assad's regime in Syria, and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

By Doug G. Ware
U.N. agrees to remove Saudi-led coalition from child abuse blacklist, pending review
Militants loyal to Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi take positions in Taiz, Yemen, on March, 30, 2015. On June 3, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a report condemning various militant groups and government forces in the Middle East, Africa, South America and Asia of perpetuating crimes against children. The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen was listed as complicit by the report, which drew angry backlash from Saudi Arabia which called the report "inaccurate." File Photo by Anees Mahyoub/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, June 6 (UPI) -- United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday agreed to remove a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen from a blacklist of militant organizations the international body says are complicit in numerous child human rights abuses -- at least pending the outcome of further investigation.

Ban issued a report on the matter Friday, which detailed various ways in which militants are committing crimes against children or using them in some fashion to advance their extremist causes.

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The report identifies dozens of suspected terror organizations as child abusers. Included on the list was the Saudi-led coalition fighting to end the Yemeni Civil War. Among the nations supportive of the Saudi coalition are Egypt, Jordan and the United States.

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The U.N. report claims that the coalition has been fighting in Yemen for only a year, but is responsible for roughly 60 percent of the child deaths there in 2015. Outraged by the accusations, Saudi Arabia asked Ban to remove the coalition force from the blacklist pending further review of the allegations made in the report. The secretary general agreed.

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"Pending the conclusions of the joint review, the secretary-general removes the listing of the coalition in the report's annex," a spokesman for Ban said Monday.

Saudi U.N. envoy Abdullah al-Mualami has called the report "misleading" and "inaccurate." The Saudi Shoura Council on Monday also denounced the allegations in the report.

A portion of the annex of a United Nations report that blacklists numerous organizations and governments for committing human rights abuses against children. A Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, supported by various nations and the United States, was included on the blacklist (bottom) -- which drew an angry response from Riyadh, which says the report is inaccurate. Image courtesy United Nations

"The Council regrets the 'paralyzed situation of UN' that reflects its complete failure to obtain information from reliable sources and find facts with professionalism and objectivity," the council said. "The situation in Yemen today undoubtedly shows that the side attacking and killing children, besieging the cities, starving the people and shelling the hospitals is that of Houthi militias who usurped power in the capital, Sana'a."

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The report condemned the Arab coalition and militia forces for a "very large number of violations," including "attacks on schools and hospitals."

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Among the other groups blacklisted by the U.N. report are Taliban forces in Afghanistan, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, al-Shabab in Somalia, the government of Sudan, President Bashar Assad's regime and the al-Nusra Front in Syria, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and government and al-Qaida forcesin Yemen.

The report details numerous abuses of children in the Middle East, Africa, South America and Asia, including the recruiting of child soldiers to help advance terrorist causes -- an allegation that's been made repeatedly against the Islamic State.

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Though child human rights abuses have been widely reported in all noted regions, the U.N. said the situation in Yemen is particularly concerning. The report said the number of children killed and recruited for militant purposes skyrocketed between 2014 and 2015.

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