New York, London– The Saudi Embassy in the UK has issued a response to the report of Channel 4 about the civilian death toll in Yemen since the beginning of the devastating war in 2015.
“The Saudi Arabian embassy has not viewed the Channel 4 footage. While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia deeply regrets any civilian deaths during the conflict, it categorically states that the Arab coalition does not deliberately target civilians or humanitarian supplies,” the statement issued by the Saudi embassy said.
It added that Saudi Arabia was the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Yemen.
“We are working with NGOs including MSF and ICRC to ensure vital aid reaches those who need it,” it said.
The embassy noted that Saudi Arabia’s efforts to facilitate humanitarian aid have been acknowledged by MSF, adding that the United Nations Development Program described the Kingdom’s commitment to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen as “notable.”
The embassy went on to say that the campaign in Yemen, of which Saudi Arabia is a member, is operating with the unanimous support of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2216, and is being carried out in full compliance with international humanitarian law.
“We are also acting in self-defense against an unprovoked attack on our borders,” it added.
“We believe the best way to reduce any causalities and alleviate humanitarian suffering is to ensure a speedy resolution to the conflict and pursue the negotiation of a political solution to the conflict in Yemen,” the embassy concluded.
Meanwhile, Kuwait’s permanent representative to the U.N., Mansour Al-Otaibi, said his country was deeply concerned over the negative effects of armed conflicts on children.
Speaking on Wednesday at a U.N. Security Council meeting on “Children and Armed Conflict”, the ambassador affirmed that the coalition was operating within the boundaries of UNSCR 2216 and the Gulf Initiative. He also highlighted Kuwait’s efforts to reach a political solution to the crisis in Yemen.
Also on Wednesday, the U.A.E. reiterated its long-standing commitment to protecting children living in conflict areas around the world.
Speaking before the 15-member chamber, U.A.E.’s permanent representative to the U.N. Lana Nusseibeh focused on the U.A.E.’s involvement in the Coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen.
“We do not bear the risk of engagement in any military theater lightly. And we continue to strive to minimize the impact of operations on civilians,” she said.
She added that the U.A.E. “put forward three policy recommendations to strengthen the impact of future reports of the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. First, the U.A.E. called for consultations and collaboration with National Governments as per the guidelines set forth in U.N. Resolution 1612.”
Second, the ambassador said, “in order to ensure the information in reports is accurate and verified, the U.A.E. urged reconsideration of the utility of the Annex of the Annual Report, given the listing of Member States next to non-state actors and terrorist groups and the problematic listing of a Coalition of countries.”
Third, the U.A.E encouraged the establishing of clear, transparent criteria for inclusion in the report, she added.
Nusseibeh stressed her country’s commitment to “seeking a political resolution to the conflict through intra-Yemeni negotiations as part of the ongoing peace process.”
She also highlighted the Emirates’ humanitarian work and development efforts in Yemen, saying that “durable solutions for stability are not gained militarily alone.”
For his part, Ghanim bin Abdulrahman Al Hudaifi, Acting Charge D’affaires at Qatar’s Permanent Mission to the U.N., said that the Arab coalition was committed to protecting civilians, providing humanitarian supplies, and paying special attention to children as dictated by its obligations under the international humanitarian law and Islam.
Hudaifi stressed that Qatar would spare no effort to cooperate with the international community to provide a suitable environment for the protection of children not only during armed conflicts, but also at all times and circumstances.