By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations blacklisted a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition on Thursday for killing and injuring 683 children in Yemen and attacking dozens of schools and hospitals during 2016, but noted the coalition had taken action to improve child protection.
The blacklist attached to the U.N. annual report on children in armed conflict also named the Iran-allied Houthi rebel group, Yemen government forces, pro-government militia and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula for violations against children in 2016 as it did in last year's report.
The report from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was submitted to the Security Council on Thursday and seen by Reuters. A draft of the blacklist was reported by Reuters on Tuesday.
The Saudi-led coalition was briefly added to the blacklist last year and then removed by then-U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon pending review. At the time, Ban accused Saudi Arabia of exerting "unacceptable" undue pressure after sources told Reuters that Riyadh threatened to cut some U.N. funding. Saudi Arabia denied threatening Ban.
In an effort to dampen controversy surrounding the report, the blacklist this year is split into two categories. One lists parties that have put in place measures to protect children, which includes the Saudi-led military coalition, and the other includes parties that have not.
The report, which was produced by U.N. children and armed conflict envoy Virginia Gamba and issued in Guterres' name, does not subject those listed to U.N. action but rather shames parties to conflicts in the hope of pushing them to implement measures to protect children.
Yemen has been devastated by more than two years of civil war in which President Abd-Rabu Mansour Hadi's government, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, is fighting to drive the Houthis out of cities they seized in 2014 and 2015.
More than 10,000 people have been killed and the conflict has ruined the economy and pushed millions to the brink of famine. The Houthis control much of northern Yemen, including the capital, Sanaa.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Bill Trott)