Amnesty, HRW want Saudi suspended from UN rights council

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Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on the United Nations General Assembly to suspend Saudi Arabia from the UN Human Rights Council until Riyadh puts an end to its military aggression against Yemen.

“Saudi Arabia has amassed an appalling record of violations in Yemen while a Human Rights Council member,” said Philippe Bolopion, the deputy director for global advocacy at Human Rights Watch.

“UN member countries should stand with Yemeni civilians and suspend Saudi Arabia immediately,” Bolopion added.

The regime in Riyadh launched its deadly campaign against Yemen on March 26, 2015, to crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement and its allies and to reinstate Yemen’s resigned president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. About 10,000 people have been killed in the Saudi airstrikes and Riyadh’s subsequent ground operation against its impoverished southern neighbor.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said they had documented 69 unlawful Saudi airstrikes on Yemeni homes, markets, hospitals, schools, civilian businesses and mosques, which left at least 913 civilians dead. The groups said some of the air raids could amount to war crimes.

Displaced women bake bread in a clay oven at a camp for internally displaced people on the outskirts of Sana’a, Yemen, June 8, 2016. ©AP

Saudi Arabia is in its final year of a three-year term on the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council, tasked with promoting human rights across the world.

A two-third majority vote by the 193-member UN General Assembly can suspend a country from the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council for persistently committing gross and systematic violations of human rights during its membership.

Earlier this month, the UN briefly added the Saudi military coalition in Yemen to an annual blacklist of states and armed groups that openly flout the rights of children. The world body blamed the military coalition for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in the conflict in Yemen last year.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, however, gave in to what he described as unacceptable pressure from Riyadh and removed the military coalition from the blacklist pending a joint review.

A boy carries food supplies provided by a local charity to conflict-affected Yemenis in Sana’a, Yemen, June 27, 2016. ©AP

The United Nations said on June 1 that some 10,000 of Yemeni children, all under five years of age, lost their lives during the past year alone.

The deaths were caused by “totally avoidable and preventable diseases” such as diarrhea and pneumonia, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

In a similar report in March, Save the Children, a non-governmental organization, said about 90 percent of children in Yemen needed emergency humanitarian aid.

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