Shadi Salah El Din (London)
Many international organizations have expressed their deep concern about the increase in the recruitment and use of children in Yemen in the war raging there, noting that the Houthi terrorist militias follow a policy of attracting children through the so-called “summer centers”, through which they mobilize children intellectually and ideologically with ideas And racist practices based on killing, exclusion and the use of force.
The Houthi militias do not attract any children, but rather those in need, and entice their families with money, which poor families desperately need during the long-running Yemeni crisis. A report by the German network “Deutsche Welle” stated that the recruitment of children is undoubtedly one of the most disturbing human rights violations documented during the war in Yemen.
In their annual report on children and armed conflict, published in May this year, UN researchers counted 211 cases of children recruited to fight in Yemen in 2020. Of these, 134 were boys and 29 girls were recruited by the Houthis. The Houthis defended themselves against the UN report by saying that it was “a report prepared by their enemies,” but the numbers never lie.
The famous German network quoted various accounts about Houthi recruitment of children, including one of the stories saying that “a soldier sent his son to fight just because he wanted to get the child’s wages,” and another spoke of “older brothers who seem to have encouraged younger siblings to enlist.” Other The son of the slain soldier wanted to take his father’s place on the front line and continue to provide for his family. The relationship that a local family has to military recruits or neighborhood officials often plays a role as well. Tawfiq Al-Humaidi, who heads the Swiss-based SAM Organization for Rights and Freedoms, confirmed that the matter is very different with the Houthis.
According to his organization’s February 2021 study, The Militarization of Childhood, Houthi rebels have recruited more than 10,000 Yemeni children since 2014 and the beginnings of the conflict. The study stated that “the Houthis deliberately used the education system to incite violence and indoctrinate students with the group’s ideologies.”
According to the Yemeni Children’s Rights Organization, the militias run about 6,000 summer camps, where this type of indoctrination takes place. Each camp accommodates at least 100 children at a time, and juveniles are given combat training and are often sent to the front lines.
The former Yemeni Minister of Human Rights, Muhammad Askar, told Deutsche Welle: Recruiting children in this way creates a kind of ‘ticking bomb’. He added that children are being brainwashed in summer camps run by the Houthis, noting that “their heads are filled with a culture of hatred and slogans such as death.” “How will we be able to reintegrate them into normal society?” he asked.