A Child-Killer List Is Roiling the UN
Saudis accused of threatening to yank funds
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2016 10:00 AM CDT
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.   (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin, File)

(Newser) – Big controversy is afoot at the UN over an annual report that lists armed groups responsible for killing children. When it came out last week, the report included the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen among the guilty parties. On Monday, however, the UN backtracked and removed the coalition from the list. Why? Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon explained on Thursday that he'd faced an impossible choice: Unless the coalition was removed, the UN would lose major funding. "I ... had to consider the very real prospect that millions of other children would suffer grievously if, as was suggested to me, countries would defund many UN programs," he said. Some context:

  • Ban didn't name names, but it's pretty clear that the Saudi government was behind what the UN chief described as "undue pressure," reports the Intercept. The Saudis officially deny it.
  • What's more, Saudi clerics were reportedly considering a fatwa against the "anti-Muslim" UN, reports CNN.

  • "It’s worth nothing that Saudi Arabia is a key funder of UN humanitarian agencies, most importantly it is the fourth largest funder of the United Nations entity that provides relief for Palestinian refugees," observes an analysis at UN Dispatch. "This was a threat that could not be easily be dismissed."
  • Human Rights Watch has written an open letter to Ban criticizing the "capitulating" move.
  • Before it was yanked, the report said that almost 2,000 Yemeni children were killed or injured in 2015, most of them (60%) because of the Saudi-led coalition, which in March of that year began fighting Houthi rebels aligned with Iran, reports Voice of America.
  • The New York Times looks at how the incident illustrates the problems faced by UN chiefs, just as world powers begin deliberating on Ban's possible successor after 10 years.
  • Here is the actual report.