While Yemeni families in Houthi-controlled governorates fear Houthi recruitment of their children to military camps and war zones, human rights reports have warned of the Houthi militia’s continued campaign of recruiting minors to fight, and have called for international mechanisms to protect children.
Sources in the capital, Sana'a have confirmed that the Houthi militia attracted hundreds of children over the past weeks to participate in the military parade it organized on the occasion of the ninth anniversary of the coup, and enticed many to join the militia's ranks in return for promised financial benefits and permanent salaries.
The sources say that a massive recruitment campaign was initiated by the Houthis during the past weeks among young people and children, as Hajjah Governorate is witnessing widespread activity in recruitment operations that were managed by tribal leaders in the countryside and neighborhood officials in the cities, in a campaign that the group called temporary recruitment.
The sources in the governorate stated that children and youth who are being recruited are transferred to special camps in Sana'a and Amran governorates, where communication between them and their families is cut off, noting that those who were summoned had received previous training courses and participated in some tasks, including military parades.
As the Houthi group continues to recruit children, Mayon Organization for Human Rights in Yemen launched a report on what it called “child warriors,” which is the second report of its kind launched by the organization in this regard.
The report covers the period from July 2021 to December 2022, during which the organization verified the recruitment of 2,233 children for their direct implication in armed conflict.
The organization said that the Houthis are responsible for 98.9 percent of the recruitment and use of children on the battle fronts, while the Yemeni government and its loyalists bear responsibility for recruiting 24 children, at a rate of 1.1 percent.
During the reporting period, the organization received reports of the recruitment of 25 children from African immigrant families, and verified 4 incidents in Sana’a and Hajjah governorates, noting that 556 children were killed in the ranks of the Houthi group while holding military ranks, while 753 others held the status of soldiers, out of a total 1,309 children were monitored killed, including a Somali child.