Geneva- A Yemeni rights group identified and reported 630 cases of child-recruitment to fight among the ranks of the country’s hostile insurgency. The group also filed for the child soldiers to be protected and immediately removed from battlefields in Yemen.
Human rights activist Huda al-Sarari said at a Geneva Symposium on Tuesday that the Yemeni Coalition to Monitor Human Rights Violations cited 630 cases of recruitment of minors.
All children are underage according to the national constitutions as well as international conventions and treaties which stipulate that no army enrollment or recruitment can take place for a child under 18 years old.
On the sidelines of the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council in the Swiss city of Geneva, the Yemeni group presented its report on the recruitment of children. The report headline read “Yemen’s children from schools to barricades.”
Al-Sarari, who heads the Human Rights Defenders Foundation, said that the rights group coalition documented 73 written interviews with child soldiers and eyewitness—most accounts of recruitment for minors took place in Sana’a, Dhamar, ‘Amran, Taiz, Mari’b, Jawf, Rima, as quoted by the official Yemeni news agency (Saba).
Coup militias composed of Iran-allied Houthis and armed loyalists backing ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh recruited 583 children, 118 of which were killed in the battlefield, while 20 others were wounded.
Most deaths were registered on several fronts such as Taiz, Mari’b, Sana’a, Jawf, Al Bayda’, Sa’ada and Hajjah.
According to statistics and figures from the group’s report, 346 child soldiers are still fighting alongside putsch ranks nearby the border with Saudi Arabia and on other heated battlefronts.
“The involvement of children in armed conflict is a crime against humanity and a time bomb with extended damage will be reflected in the region and the world as a whole, not just Yemen,” said Dr. Wissam Basendwa, president of the Arab Initiative for Education and Development.
Basendwa called for concerted efforts to curb this phenomenon, for supporting the restoration of the Yemeni state with its legitimate authority, activating conventions in this regard, and accelerating the domestic criminal legislation for child recruitment.