The UN says Saudi Arabia is now pressuring the world body to disclose the sources of information that landed the kingdom on a blacklist of children’s rights violators.
Both Saudi Arabia and the United Nations have come under criticism after UN chief Ban Ki-moon admitted last week that he had expunged Riyadh from the blacklist under “undue pressure.”
On Wednesday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the world body had brushed off Saudi demands to divulge the sources of a report holding the kingdom responsible for 60 percent of child casualties in Yemen last year.
“Protecting the sources of information that are used in this report, or any other report, is paramount, especially in a conflict area,” Dujarric said.
He said Saudi UN Ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi had written to Ban, requesting for the information of those who contributed to blacklisting the monarchy as a child rights violator.
According to the Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) report, Saudi Arabia was responsible for 60 percent of the 510 children killed and 667 others injured in Yemen last year.
Saudi Arabia launched its military aggression against Yemen in March last year in a bid to bring Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crush the Houthi movement.
The CAAC report said the Saudi military conducted half of its aerial attacks against schools and medical facilities.
A week after publishing the report, Ban said he had decided to temporarily take Saudi Arabia off the blacklist after the kingdom and its allies threatened to cut off funding to UN programs.
The Saudi ambassador to the UN has declared that the changes were “final and unconditional” and that Riyadh had been “vindicated.”
The announcement sparked international outcry and 20 prominent human rights groups urged the UN chief to put Riyadh back on the blacklist.
In a letter, signed by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Oxfam among others, the rights groups accused Ban of giving in to “political manipulation” by the oil-rich kingdom.
On Wednesday, Dujarric said Saudi Arabia had invited a UN team to Riyadh for talks. “We’re studying it. We obviously remain interested in what information the Saudi-led coalition could provide us,” he said.
Dujarric said “our preference” would be to hold meetings at UN headquarters in New York.
More than 9,400 people have been killed and at least 16,000 others injured since Saudi Arabia began its offensive on Yemen.
The military campaign has also taken a heavy toll on the impoverished country’s infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.