According to the UN, almost 2,000 children recruited by Yemen’s Houthi rebels have been killed on the battlefield, and the organization is acquiring essential components for weapon systems from Middle Eastern, European, and Asian firms.
UN experts said they found evidence the Houthis used several summer camps and a mosque to disseminate their ideology and recruit children to fight Yemen’s internationally recognized government, which is backed by a Saudi-led coalition, in an annual report to the Security Council circulated on Saturday.
“The children are instructed to shout the Houthi slogan ‘death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews, victory to Islam’,” the four-member panel of experts said. “In one camp, children as young as 7 years of age were taught to clean weapons and evade rockets.”
The panel got a list of 1,406 children who were recruited by the Houthis and died on the battlefield in 2020, as well as 562 child soldiers slain between January and May 2021, according to the panel.
“They were between the ages of ten and seventeen,” according to the specialists, and “a significant number” were killed in Amran, Dhamar, Hajjah, Hodeidah, Ibb, Saada, and Sanaa.
The experts condemned the use of child soldiers in the seven-year conflict and urged all parties ” “to refrain from using schools, summer camps and mosques to recruit children.” They suggested that individuals who do so face penalties.
The rebels, who hold Sanaa, continued “to source critical components for their weapon systems from companies in Europe and Asia, using a complex network of intermediaries to obscure the chain of custody”, according to the 300-page report.