The Arab Coalition in Yemen takes its responsibility to protect civilians, particularly children, very seriously, said the UAE ambassador to the UN.
“The coalition has sustained efforts and will continue to do more to minimise the impact on children because we believe deeply that every innocent child killed or injured in the conflict is a loss to many,” said Lana Nusseibeh at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict, on Monday.
“The coalition closely co-ordinates with all UN agencies and NGOs on the ground to ensure the protection of children, and this will continue.”
The coalition — which includes Saudi Arabia and the UAE — intervened in the Yemen war in March 2015 to push back the Iran-backed rebels and restore the power of the internationally-recognised government of President Abdradu Mansur Hadi.
In co-ordination with Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, the coalition has established a Child Protection Unit.
Ms Nusseibeh said that continuous efforts to strengthen the protection of children have yielded some positive results, including the re-integration of Yemeni children who were recruited by the Houthi militia into their communities.
“While we work to protect children in Yemen, the Houthis continue to terrorise the population and we condemn their complete disregard for children and their violation of international humanitarian law,” she said.
“Among their worst offences are the despicable use of children as child soldiers and human shields, the use of civilian hospitals and schools for military purposes, the indiscriminate laying of landmines as well as missile attacks on Saudi Arabia against their civilian population.”
Ms Nusseibah said that extremist and terrorist groups in the Middle East continue to pose a serious threat to children. These include ISIS and Al Qaeda.
“These groups kill, abduct, recruit for suicide bombings and sexually abuse children,” she said.
“They are also responsible for the attacks and the manufacture of explosive devices that cause child casualties and damage to infrastructure critical to the welfare and safety of children.”
“We should all be extremely concerned by the significant increase of verified grave violations against children in 2017.”