A new AP report reveals that Iran-supported Houthis have been using thousands of child soldiers on the front lines in the Yemen war, raising concerns for human rights and crimes against children.
The AP report said:
Mohammed was among 18 former child soldiers interviewed by The Associated Press who described the Houthis’ unrelenting efficiency when it comes to the recruitment, deployment and even battlefield deaths of boys as young as 10.
While both sides in the four-year civil war have sent children into combat in violation of international human rights conventions, the Houthis are believed to have recruited many more than the coalition — often forcibly.
The Houthis have inducted 18,000 child soldiers into their rebel army since the beginning of the war in 2014, a senior Houthi military official acknowledged to the AP. He spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information.
That figure is higher than any number previously reported. The United Nations was able to verify 2,721 children recruited to fight for all sides in the conflict, the large majority for the Houthis, but officials say that count is likely low, because many families will not speak about the issue out of fear of reprisals from Houthi militiamen.
The Houthis say officially that they don’t recruit children and send away those who try to enlist.
The full AP report can be read here.