Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

UNICEF to Asharq Al-Awsat: Children are Trained to Use Heavy Weapons in Yemen | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Jeddah-An annual report prepared by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) affirmed the dangerous involvement of Houthi militias in crimes committed against Yemeni children, by mainly recruiting child soldiers and enrolling them in training camps to become a main target during the ongoing war.

The report also showed that those children were placed in the forefronts during military confrontations and were turned into humanitarian shields behind which rebel forces are hiding.

The dire humanitarian conditions in Yemen were further deteriorating due to the activities of Yemeni rebels.

The international reports have warned against recruiting child soldiers and training young combatants on carrying heavy weapons.

UNICEF asserted that Yemen is one of the leading countries where violations against children are registered.

UNICEF spokesperson for the Middle East and North Africa, Juliet Toma told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that recruiting and training children to carry and use heavy weapons for military purposes was one of the most hostile violations committed against children.

Toma said the latest UNICEF report on Yemen asserted the number of child soldiers used in Yemen for military purposes had increased while the age of those young combatants had declined.

The U.N. agency said that compared to last year, the number of child soldiers in Yemen had grown sevenfold.

Toma revealed that the war in Yemen had introduced changes to modern warfare, not only in the number of children who were killed, but also the means that were used in the fighting process.

She said that the role played by children in the ongoing war in Yemen was taking several forms, including their training to use heavy arms on the frontline and their actual involvement in the fighting.

The spokesperson said that the rise in violence in Yemen prevented needy children to receive humanitarian aid, which she said was the main reason behind obstructing UNICEF from offering assistance.

Asked about the presence of U.N. members under the protection of Houthi controlled-areas in Yemen and how much it affects the credibility of the agency, Thomas said: “We present our reports to the U.N. and it is not the responsibility of UNICEF to raise accusations, however, we work on shedding the light to ease the probabilities of violence and send aid to children.”

According to the UNICEF report, around 2,300 children were harmed last year, an equivalent of 6 children being killed or hurt on a daily basis since March 2015.