Yesterday, the UN released its annual report on children and armed conflict, in which it added a coalition of Gulf nations – led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the United States – to a UN blacklist of states and armed groups that violate the human rights of children in times of war. As we previously reported, U.S. military support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen’s civil war has been extensive, and has remained so despite growing outrage over the coalition’s utter disregard for civilian lives.
The UN report, which covers January through December 2015, found that fighting in Yemen last year killed 785 children and injured 1,168. According to the report, the Saudi-led coalition is responsible for 60 percent of those child casualties, specifically 510 deaths and 667 injuries, while Houthi rebels are responsible for 20 percent. The UN couldn’t verify who is responsible for the remaining 20 percent of child casualties. The report also found that the Saudi-led coalition is responsible for 57 percent of the 42 verified attacks on schools, while Houthi rebels are responsible for 16 percent.
Opposition to U.S. support for the war in Yemen has been on the rise since the intervention began in March 2015, but in recent months that opposition has become a force to be reckoned with. In April, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) introduced bicameral legislation that would block the transfer of air-to-ground munitions to Saudi Arabia until the president can certify that the Kingdom is taking pains to avoid civilian casualties and facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid. Last Thursday, Sen. Murphy introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have the same effect.
Given the devastating effects of the Saudi coalition’s intervention in Yemen – brought into even sharper focus by the annual UN report – lawmakers should take immediate action to end U.S. support for the war. Blocking the transfer of air-to-ground munitions to Saudi Arabia is a critical next step. Please call your Senators and Representative and tell them to co-sponsor Murphy and Lieu’s legislation (S.J.Res.32 and H.J.Res.90) and support Murphy’s amendment to the NDAA. The Capitol Switchboard is 202-224-3121.