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Ahead of Peace Talks, UN Presses to Reduce Yemen War's Effect on Children

  • VOA News

FILE - Children play amid the rubble of a house destroyed by a Saudi-led airstrike in Sana'a, Yemen.

FILE - Children play amid the rubble of a house destroyed by a Saudi-led airstrike in Sana'a, Yemen.

Ahead of peace talks on Yemen scheduled to restart Friday in Kuwait, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pressed the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen to act to reduce the number of children being killed in the wartorn country.

U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters Thursday that Ban hopes the coalition will be able to provide information about concrete actions being taken since the United Nations put the Saudi-backed authorities in Yemen last month on a so-called "list of shame," naming the worst violators of children's rights.

The United Nations says the coalition was to blame for 60 percent of the 785 children killed in Yemen last year.

Saudi Foreign Minister Abel Al-Jubeir met with Ban at U.N. headquarters Thursday and told him, Dujarric said, that the coalition is ready to take "the necessary concrete measures to end and prevent violations against children."

Jubeir told reporters himself that the coalition is waging its air campaign "with great care in order to avoid damages to civilians and in particular children."

The coalition launched a military campaign last year to push back Houthi rebels who had seized the capital, Sana'a. Thousands of people have died in the violence. A cease-fire was arranged in April but did not hold, and has been repeatedly violated by both sides.

The Houthi rebels are expected at the peace talks, but the internationally recognized Saudi-backed Yemeni government has threatened to boycott the meetings until a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for the withdrawal of militias from all cities is implemented.

The rebels are demanding a share of power in a new government.

Ban has said a negotiated political settlement is the only way to end the war in Yemen and meet the needs of the opposing parties.