The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and the SAM for Rights and Liberties released a 38-page report on Friday shedding light on Houthis’ recruitment of Yemeni children.
The report, entitled ‘Militarized Childhood’, said that the Iran-backed Houthi militia has recruited as many as 10300 underage children since the rebels overran Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, and ousted the internationally recognized government in 2014.
“Armed groups in Yemen, especially the Houthis, sought to recruit children to reinforce their capabilities,” the report said. “The Houthis have used complex patterns to forcibly recruit these children and use them in hostilities and compensate for their losses during the battles against the Yemeni government forces and the Arab coalition forces led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
The two human rights organizations said in their joint report that they collected testimonies of children who were forcibly recruited by the Houthis.
“I was assigned with loading the guns and transporting them with foodstuffs to high, rugged areas. It was hard and exhausting. I used to get beaten and reprimanded when I arrived late. I cried a lot during those nights, fearing for my life and for missing my mother, father and brothers,” a 14-year-old child was quoted in the report.
According to the report, the Houthi militia did not only limit its recruitment of children to boys but also girls.
“They recruited 34 girls (aged between 13 and 17), and used them as informants, soldiers, guards, paramedics, and members of Zainabiyat, whose job is inspecting women and homes, lecturing other women about the group’s ideology, as well as maintaining order in women
Prisons,” it added.
The report accused the militia of using “the education system to incite violence and indoctrinate students with the group’s ideologies.”
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and the SAM for Rights and Liberties warned of dangerous consequences of this appalling phenomenon, for it does not only include recruiting children in military operations but also feeds these children’s “simple minds with extremist ideas and filling them with hate speech and violence, and thus creating future extremists who may not be easily controlled given the huge number that the group recruits or aims to recruit in the future.”
They called on the UN Security Council to refer the alarming issue of child soldiers in Yemen to the International Criminal Court as a war crime under the Rome Statute that governs the court.