Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday he temporarily removed the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen from a UN blacklist for violating child rights because its supporters threatened to stop funding many UN programs.
Ban Ki-moon said he had to consider “the very real prospect” that millions of other children in the Palestinian territories, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and many other places “would suffer grievously” if U.N. programs were defunded.
“This was one of the most painful and difficult decisions I have had to make,” he said.
UN secretary-generals are always subject to pressure from the 193 member nations. But in a rare rebuke, Ban Ki-moon said in this case some unnamed countries had gone too far, declaring “it is unacceptable for member states to exert undue pressure.”
The secretary-general was responding to what he called the “fierce reaction” to his decision, which was denounced by human rights groups. They accused the UN chief of caving in to Saudi Arabia and said the U.S.-backed coalition belongs on the list for its attacks on children, schools and hospitals.
Ban Ki-moon said he stands by his annual report on children and armed conflict, which “describes horrors no child should have to face.”