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UN:: Houthis Recruit Child Soldiers | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Houthi fighters in Yemen’s capital city, Sana’a (AFP)

Riyadh, London- The UN human rights office accused on Tuesday Houthi militias of recruiting hundreds of children in Yemen and of misleading or attracting them by promises of financial rewards or social status.

“Children under the age of 18 often join the fighting after either being misled or attracted by promises of financial rewards or social status. Many are then quickly sent to the front lines of the conflict or tasked with manning checkpoints,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva at a bi-weekly press briefing.

The UN has verified that Houthis had recruited 1,476 children, all boys, between 26 March 2015 and 31 January 2017. However, the numbers are likely to be much higher as most families are not willing to talk about the recruitment of their children, for fear of reprisals, the report said.

“Just last week, we received new reports of children who were recruited without the knowledge of their families,” Shamdasani said.

Simultaneously with the UN accusations, Amnesty International revealed in a statement issued Tuesday Houthi militias’ involvement in recruiting children and forcing them to fight in battlefields. It cited witnesses speaking of financial incentives to families, including monthly salaries ranging between $80 and $120 for every family of a child “martyr.”

Meanwhile, the Houthis have prevented UN undersecretary for humanitarian affairs Stephen O’Brien from visiting the city of Taiz to see the humanitarian situation there.

“O’Brien’s convoy was denied passage at the final checkpoint before crossing the frontline” into Taiz, said a statement by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

O’Brien was stopped at a Houthi checkpoint for hours due to intense shelling on Army positions in the town of Hizran and Jabal Han.

Separately, sources revealed that the Arab Coalition to support legitimacy in Yemen finally succeeded in targeting a position in the northern town of Aal al-Zamah, killing two officers from the Presidential Guard of Ali Abdullah Saleh and injuring Majed Zarah, the officer supervising al-Raboah frontline, near the Saudi borders.