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UN removes Saudi-led coalition from blacklist over Yemen child deaths

The United Nations has said it will temporarily remove the coalition from a blacklist following the deaths of hundreds of minors in Yemen last year. Riyadh had warned its inclusion may be "counterproductive" for peace.

The UN said on Monday that it had temporarily removed Saudi Arabia from the child rights blacklist, while a review of the facts was conducted.

A

report on children and armed conflict,

published on Thursday, included the Saudi-led coalition as one of the parties guilty of grave violations against children. It said the coalition was responsible for killing 510 children, and wounding another 667.

However, following a complaint from Saudi Arabia, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon agreed to a joint review that would involve the coalition, examining the cases cited in the report.

"Pending the conclusions of the joint review, the secretary-general removes the listing of the coalition in the report's annex," Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia had reacted with outrage to the coalition's inclusion, with the Saudi ambassador to the UN, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, saying he was "deeply disappointed" and "disturbed."

'This removal is final'

The ambassador said that keeping the coalition on the blacklist would be "counterproductive for the purposes of the

peace negotiations

on Yemen."

Watch video 06:01

Yemen - Hope for peace?

"We were wrongly placed on the list," he told reporters. "We know that this removal is final."

Mouallimi admitted "there were some collateral damages from time to time," but he claimed the coalition had played a "positive role" in restoring legitimate government to Yemen while at the same time providing humanitarian aid.

The coalition started its

military campaign in Yemen

in March last year, seeking to prevent Iran-allied Houthi rebels and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh from taking power.

Since last March, some 6,000 people - about half of them civilians - have been killed in Yemen, according to UN figures.

rc/bw (AFP AP, Reuters)

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