Diplomacy Politics

Maldives defends Saudi Arabia over UN report on killing Yemen children

The Maldives has defended a Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen after the kingdom was blacklisted by the UN for killing and injuring hundreds of children last year.

The military alliance was placed on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ “list of shame” for 683 child casualties and 38 verified incidents of attacks on schools and hospitals.

But in a statement Sunday, the Maldives mission in New York claimed that “the allegations levelled against the coalition were based not on first-hand observation by the officials of the United Nations, but regrettably, on reports by various other parties, including NGOs.”

The Maldives stressed “the need to verify information using the most objective methods, especially if the information were to use in public documents” and urged international organisations such as the UN and the European Union to “follow a rigorous process of verifying the information they use for policy purposes and in public documents.”

The statement echoed Saudi Arabia’s rejection of “the inaccurate and misleading information and figures” in the annual report, which also noted that that the US-backed coalition had “put in places measures during the reporting period to improve the protection of children”.

The Maldives is among 34 countries that joined a Saudi Arabian-led Islamic military alliance formed to combat terrorist organisations in December 2015. But the Maldives has not provided military support or troops for the coalition fighting in Yemen.

Following the UN’s blacklisting, the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party last week called on President Abdulla Yameen’s administration to withdraw support for the coalition.

MDP spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said: “In joining this murderous coalition, President Yameen has made the Maldives complicit in the destruction of Yemen and the slaughter of its people. The Maldives must immediately leave this disgraceful coalition, which is responsible for the indiscriminate killing and maiming of fellow Muslims.”

Last month, the opposition also accused the government of allowing China to dictate foreign policy after the Maldives’ absence from a UN vote on the prevention of mass atrocities.

Earlier this year, the MDP warned that alleged plans to sell an atoll to the Saudi royal family would “amount to creeping colonialism by the Saudi government.”

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