Riyadh Newspaper / Riyadh Daily
Houthi militias recruit children in large numbers in war fronts
Houthi Militias recruit the twelve-year-old child Omar who is still in grade five. They captured him in one of Sanaa provinces with the aim of turning him into a fighter loyal to them. The criminal militias placed the child forty days at one of the Houthi sectarian centers. Omar comes from the province of “Mawiya” affiliated to Taiz province. He lives with his parents in Sana'a since his birth according to the story of his relatives and the neighbors surrounding.
The twelve- year-old Omar was nicknamed Abul Karrar and recruited by the Houthi Militias that pulled him into the armed conflict. He was sent to the war front of “Nahm”. In last December, he was brought to his family smashed into pieces accompanied by a ceremonial procession covered with green colors as Houthis used to do with their killed fighters
One of the neighbors of Omar in Sewan District, east of the capital Sanaa said: “Omar was a polite and smart child. One day, he went to a nearby mosque under the control of Houthis but he did not come back home. He was captured by Houthis for forty days. When he appeared, he was nicknamed Abul Karrar having a bundle of papers containing the extremist ideology of the Houthi group.
Jurists and activists in Sana'a assert that the Houthi group, since its inception, exerts arduous efforts to attract and recruit children in various ways and methods. But, in the last two years, Houthi Militias escalated these methods for the purpose of recruiting more children from schools, mosques, markets, slums and sports clubs.
Having recently suffered from a severe shortage in the number of fighters, the Houthis’ officials sent their affiliates to schools to recruit and mobilize pupils and send them to war fronts suffering from severe shortage. In January 2019, Human rights sources in Sanaa revealed a document comprising the names of 50 killed children from one school in the Bani Hashish district located in the eastern outskirts of Sana'a.
Minister of Youth and Sport and leader in the Houthi Militias Hassan Zaid had previously proposed to close schools and send students to the war fronts, while Yemeni activists confirm that two of Zaid's children are currently studying abroad at the best international universities.
The Yemeni sources also documented that the Houthi group has recruited dozens of children from the orphanage in Sana'a, most of whom were killed in the Nahm district over the past two years.
Many observers stated that the Houthi group was keen on destroying the educational system in its areas under its control due to not paying salaries of teachers with the aim of prompting pupils to leave schools and recruiting them. The Houthi group has no difficulty with arming children and making armed parade as it usually does in its armed parade aired by the Houthi media.
Yemeni activists affirm that the Houthi Militias employed large amounts of international food aid with the aim of recruiting children, especially in Hodeidah, Hajja, Mahweet and Ibb by offering food baskets to the poor families in return for sending their members to war fronts.
Local residents in the capital Sanaa, confirm that the Houthi militias continue to attract children under the age of 18 and involve them in sectarian courses introduced in a number of mosques in the capital.
The sources added: “The militias allocated the basements of mosques to house children and young people enrolled in their ranks and introduce sectarian courses containing Founder Husain Al-Houthi and his Brother Abdel Malik Al-Houthi’s ideology to them.
Meanwhile, previous UN reports confirmed that about one-third of Houthi elements are minors and children. In addition, Legitimate Yemeni Government’s Human Rights Minister Mohammed Askar said the Houthi Militias recruited about 25.000 children over the past four years, while a Yemeni organization tasked with defending children rights revealed that children represent 50 per cent of the Houthi Militias’ fighters since 2024.
In a latest government statistics on the recruitment of children among Houthis ranks, Minister of Social Affairs and Labor in the legitimate government Dr. Abtaj al-Kamal said that the Houthis illegally recruited more than 23 thousand children and this contradicts with the international laws and norms and laws of children.” Dr. Abtaj al-Kamal made clear that recruiting school children and sending them to war fronts represent war crimes and violate all international laws and norms related to childhood.
For its part, Wethaq Organization for Civil Orientation in its latest reports said that the Houthi Militias recruited 25000 children at the age of 15 mostly in Sana'a, Dhamar, Amran, Mahweet and Hajja over the last year. The recruited children were distributed to war fronts and this represents a blatant violation to all international conventions and laws protecting the rights of the child.
According to Yemeni and international human right reports, the war broken down by the Houthi Militias in Yemen pushed more than two million children into the labor market because of the difficult economic conditions, in addition to depriving more than 4.5 million children of education including 1.6 million were deprived of joining schools over the last two years.