The U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, publicly admitted on Thursday that the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen had been purposely removed from an annual U.N. report which serves to name and shame nations and organizations who have violated the rights of children during armed conflict.
There was an immediate outcry from Saudi Arabia after the report’s publication on Monday, this was followed by an announcement which claimed that all Saudi references were removed so that a joint review could take place to determine the accuracy of the numbers.
The Secretary General has now admitted that the decision to do so followed threats that Saudi Arabia and its allies would withdraw U.N. funding if references were not removed, though he stands by the original report. As one of the largest donors to the organization Saudi Arabia would inflict significant damage on existing programs if it were to do so, potentially causing suffering for millions of children as a result, according to the Secretary General.
The report originally named Saudi Arabia as the cause for the majority of child casualties in Yemen. According to U.N. researchers in Yemen, of the 785 children killed and 1,168 injured, 60% were as a result of the Saudi-led bombing mission. The coalition was originally described as a party responsible for killing and maiming children and having deliberately targeted schools and hospitals.
In Thursday’s statement the Secretary General did not specify where the threats originated from, but numerous news reports have reportedly indicated that they came directly from the Saudi government, allegations that the Saudi ambassador to the U.N. has denied.