A new report by two international aid groups says Saudi Arabia and its allies must be named in the UN's annual list of perpetrators of child rights violations as Riyadh continues to carry out attacks on schools and medical facilities during its military aggression against Yemen.
The report, by Save the Children and Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, called on UN Secretary General António Guterres to add Saudi Arabia to his list of those responsible for grave violations of children's rights in conflict.
The report also documents a series of deadly attacks by Saudi-led forces on hospitals and medics over the past two years.
"Repeated violations by the coalition have been verified in multiple UN reports and by credible human rights organizations, including Save the Children," said Patricia Erb, the president and CEO of Save the Children in Canada.
Saudi Arabia has carried out several attacks on schools and medical facilities and personnel in Yemen over the past two years.
Elsewhere in the report, Erb also called on the Ottawa government to exert pressure on the Saudi regime to prevent deadly attacks on Yemeni children.
"Canada must speak up and call for accountability for any actor engaged in grave violations against children," she said, adding that, “We know that schools are also under attack. The importance of protecting education for children in conflict is paramount."
The new report also calls on UN members to stop all arms sales or shipments to Saudi Arabia and its allies.
"Canada should not be permitting arms transfers to a country that is bombing schools and health centers and killing children. We must put a stop to these double standards and halt all arms exports to Saudi Arabia until those accountable for grave violations are held responsible," Erb stated.
In 2014, Canada approved a controversial export license for the sale and transfer of armored vehicles to the Riyadh regime. However, the Canadian government later indicated that it would consider suspending or canceling arms exports to Saudi Arabia if "human rights conditions deteriorated."
The developments come as this year's UN report on Children and Armed Conflict is due to be published in the coming months.
In June 2016, the then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon briefly listed Saudi Arabia for killing children and attacking schools and hospitals in Yemen. The UN dropped Saudi Arabia from its annual blacklist, only one week after it announced the blacklisting of the regime.
Ban later criticized Saudi Arabia and some other Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf region for putting “undue pressure” on the world body in order to seek their removal from the blacklist for violating children’s rights in Yemen.
- UN chief slams ‘undue pressure’ by Saudis over child abuse list
- Rights groups urge UN chief to put Saudi Arabia back on blacklist
Saudi Arabia launched its deadly campaign against Yemen in March 2015 to push back the Houthi Ansarullah fighters from Sana’a and to bring back to power Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, the resigned president who is a staunch ally of Riyadh.
The campaign, which lacks any international mandate and has faced increasing criticism, has claimed the lives of more than 12,000 people, most of them civilians.
Certain Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar, are partners to the Riyadh’s military aggression.