The Saudi-led coalition fighting Shia rebels in Yemen rejected yesterday a UN report that placed it on an annual blacklist over the deaths of hundreds of children in air strikes.
“The report is imbalanced and does not rely on credible statistics, nor does it serve the Yemeni people,” coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Assiri told the official Saudi Press Agency.
“It misleads the public with incorrect numbers and mostly relies on information from sources associated with the Houthi militia and the deposed (former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah) Saleh,” he said.
The report, released on Thursday by the office of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said 785 children had been killed and 1,168 injured in Yemen last year, blaming the Saudi-led coalition for 60% of the toll.
Saudi Arabia launched the intervention in Yemen in March last year in support of the internationally recognised government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against Houthi rebels accused of having links with Iran and army units loyal to Saleh, who was forced out of office in 2012 under a Gulf-sponsored deal.
Assiri said the coalition was in Yemen to “protect the Yemeni people, including children, from the actions of the Houthi militia.”  He cited a $30mn Saudi aid programme for Yemen launched in co-operation with the UN children’s fund (Unicef).